Heston carving out revival in Seattle

Heston carving out revival in Seattle

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two years ago, Chris Heston was a promising right-hander, who won 12 games for the Giants, including a no-hitter in an outstanding rookie season.

Now the 28-year-old from Florida finds himself trying to carve out a new niche for himself with the Mariners, one of a handful of starters acquired by general manager Jerry Dipoto during the offseason to add rotation depth to the organization.

"It's a new opportunity, a chance to get some new eyes on me," said Heston, who is slated to start the Mariners second Cactus League game Sunday against the Padres. "I think a change of scenery can be good sometimes. I was traded somewhere I was wanted, so I'm excited to get going and see where the pieces fall. I want to get out there and start pitching."

Mariners' vision for 2017

Not much went right for Heston last year, when he opened the year in San Francisco's bullpen, struggled in that role and then tore his oblique in June and spent two months on the disabled list. The result was a season spent mostly struggling in Triple-A and eventually led to his trade to Seattle for a player to be named.

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The Mariners are intrigued.

"We're excited to have him, and are looking for a bounce-back from him," manager Scott Servais said. "Sometimes there are issues that attribute to a down year. Whether it's health or maybe not using your pitches in the right way. Maybe we can get him in a good spot here.

"I really like how he goes about his business. He certainly has experience and is very comfortable in big league camp. I would look for him to have a big spring. Even if he doesn't break with us, he'd certainly be a guy we'd be comfortable going to at any point."

Heston says being healthy now is huge, as well as establishing a quick relationship with Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.

"Missing a lot of time [with the oblique] is never good," Heston said. "Even before that, I was dealing with some things, a new role, a new situation. I was just trying to do things that aren't me.

"But I feel great now. Working with Mel, he's got the sinkerball thing down, and is helping me out big time. I think I'm getting back to where I was before '15, and what got me to the big leagues."

As for his no-hitter against the Mets?

"That is something you dream about in the yard as a little kid," he said. "Just to have the opportunity to get that done is pretty special. It definitely set the bar kind of high. You just try to go out and compete every time after that. Realistically, you're not going to do that too many times, so for me it was just going out and attacking and trying to keep a level head, and just stay in the moment."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.