The Mariners signed a pair of veteran major league pitchers to minor league contracts on Tuesday after they passed their physicals.
Right-handers Jon Garland and Kameron Loe received invitations to big league spring training and have legitimate chances to make the 25-man roster.
Garland, 33, missed all of last season as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in July of 2011. He tried to make it back for last season, but he had setbacks.
“Going into spring, I’d gotten off the mound a few times and I was going in the wrong direction,” he said. “Every time I got on the mound, it was getting weaker and it wasn’t recovering as well. And I knew right then and there that I had to shut it down and give it the time it needed. It was probably the best decision I ever made.”
Now a year and a half removed from the surgery, he said there are no lingering effects.
“I’m 100 percent, there’s not question in my mind,” he said. “I’ve been throwing off the mound for over a month and I’m feeling strong.”
Garland will vie for a spot in the rotation. Realistically, the Mariners have one, possibly two, open spots behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and the soon-to-be signed Joe Saunders.
“I know what I have to go out and do,” Garland said. “The number one thing is staying healthy and trying to get back to what I’m capable of doing, going out and giving a big league team a chance to win a ball game.”
Garland had multiple offers from teams, but chose Seattle.
“There were some pretty options out there,” he said. “But when I looked at it on paper, I thought I had a really good opportunity with this team.”
Garland has a career record of 132-119 with a 4.32 earned run average. Garland’s last full season was in 2010 when he made 33 starts for the Padres, going 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA. He’s made over 30 starts in a season, nine times in his career and eclipsed the 200 inning mark five times.
Loe, 31, posted a 6-5 record with two saves and a 4.61 ERA in 70 relief appearances with the Milwaukee Brewers last season. In 2010, he made a career record 72 relief appearances, posting a 4-7 record with a 3.50 ERA. That season, he struck out 61 batters and walked just 16 in 72 innings pitched. f
Loe does have plenty of experience pitching in the American League West. He spent parts of five seasons with the Texas Rangers, first as a starter and then a reliever. At 6-foot-8 he casts an imposing presence on the mound.
While the bullpen roles do seem set based on last year’s performances, both Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor are quite inexperienced and untested.
Saunders, who has agreed to a one-year major league contract, was in Peoria on Tuesday and took his physical. The Mariners have not made his signing official as they work out a corresponding 40-man roster move.