Forgive me as I get my feet wet with Mariners coverage, but I wasn’t the only new face in the clubhouse this afternoon. Left-handed pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith has rejoined the team for the first time in over a month after being activated from the disabled list. Seattle now has 26 players on the active roster.
Rowland-Smith was placed on the DL on July 28 with a lower back strain. He had five rehab starts with the Rainiers before being called up, including one last night against Colorado Springs where he allowed one run in seven innings with five strikeouts and no walks on 102 pitches.
Obviously better physically, Rowland-Smith credited Tacoma pitching coach Jaime Navarro with his improvement psychologically after having a particularly “refreshing conversation.”
“He said, ‘What it is that got you here and what is it that’s given you success here? The last three years what is it that’s given you success?’ ” Rowland-Smith said. “We just went back to that.
“Just simplifying everything. I know it seems cliche, but in game you can’t get above and beyond yourself … I’m back to knowing what I have is good enough and staying with that and trusting that.”
Manager Daren Brown said it looks like the big 27-year-old is confident again, which allowed him to have success while back. Rowland-Smith will first come out of the bullpen but could make a start or two down the road.
“He’s always been a very competitive guy,” Brown said, “and from talking to him today I think he’s got some of that back, whether you want to call that “fire” or whatever it is. I’m looking forward to getting him out there in about 4-5 days and getting him going again. He’s been good up here before and try to get him back to that point.”
Rowland-Smith said he finally feels like he did when he was successful in the big leagues, both physically and mentally. He’s hoping this final month can give him momentum into next season as he works to get his spot back in the rotation.
“Ultimately I want to start because I can do it,” he said. “It’s been an enjoyable process getting to that point in the big leagues to be able to start, so I want to get back to that, absolutely. I know I’m very capable of doing it.”
In 22 games this season, which includes 19 starts, Rowland-Smith with 1-10 with a 6.96 ERA. In his last appearance for the Mariners on July 27, he allowed 11 hits and 11 runs in five innings against Chicago. He has more walks (40) than strikeouts (39) for Seattle and has allowed 23 home runs.
Lineups for tonight.