Cortes brings heater, passion to Seattle 'pen

Cortes brings heater, passion to Seattle 'pen

SEATTLE -- Dan Cortes is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds and has registered as high as 102 mph on a radar gun this year. But he had to admit that when he learned he would be promoted to the Major Leagues for the first time, he shed his share of tears.

OK, maybe it was the sting of the champagne that the right-hander and his teammates had popped after his Triple-A Tacoma club finished off Memphis to win the Pacific Coast League championship, but then again, Cortes did say he got very emotional.

Cortes has always been emotional on the mound, and since he asked the organization to convert him from a starter into a late-inning reliever, he's begun to harness that emotion better.

"I just got really impatient up there on the mound and I started walking a lot of people," said Cortes, who joined the Mariners after not much sleep and a long plane flight, of his experiences early in the season in Double-A West Tennessee before he requested to become a reliever.

"I've always had kind of a closer mentality as a starter. I've always been aggressive as a starter, so It wasn't that much of a change to me. It's the same. But instead of reserving energy, now I just let it go for one or two innings. I don't hold anything back."

Cortes, 23, began the season as starter, going 5-4 with a 6.08 ERA in 16 starts for West Tennessee, but took to relieving, going 1-0 with a save and a 0.71 ERA (one earned run in 12 2/3 innings) with 20 strikeouts to earn a promotion to Tacoma. With the Rainiers, Cortes, who was acquired last year along with Derrick Saito from Kansas City in exchange for Yuniesky Betancourt, went 1-2 with one save and a 4.97 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

Now he'll try to control the nerves that he says he knows will be present when he takes a Major League mound for the first time. And the Mariners know that about Cortes.

"We're not going to throw him into a one-run ballgame in the eighth or ninth inning right off the bat, but he's obviously a guy we want to get his feet wet," Mariners interim manager Daren Brown said. "We'll look for the right situation to get him in there -- probably as low a pressure situation as we can find.

"That's tough to do at this level. He is a kid coming in, and any situation's going to be a pressure situation when he comes in. But he has an outstanding arm."