Delcarmen seeks fresh start in Seattle

Delcarmen seeks fresh start in Seattle

Delcarmen seeks fresh start in Seattle
PEORIA, Ariz. -- For most of the past 10 years, Manny Delcarmen was the hometown kid making good with the Boston Red Sox. But those days are in his rear-view mirror now. After a stint at the end of last season in Colorado, his Red Sox roots have been transplanted to a new situation in Seattle, where he hopes to start anew.

Delcarmen, 29, finds himself being mentioned as a contender for a closer or late-inning-relief role for the Mariners as they look to boost a bullpen temporarily facing the vacancy created by David Aardsma's hip surgery.

That's a big leap for Delcarmen, who struggled last year with a forearm injury and wound up being traded to the Rockies after a decade with the team that drafted him in the second round out of West Roxbury High in Boston's Hyde Park.

But Delcarmen once was a highly regarded middle reliever for the Red Sox, a hard-throwing right-hander who brings a career record of 11-8 with a 3.97 ERA to a Seattle club searching for solutions at the back of its bullpen.

Delcarmen signed with the Mariners just last week, agreeing to a Minor League deal with the hope of converting that into a spot on the 25-man roster. Like several other veteran relievers, he saw the possibility of playing time in Seattle and jumped at the chance.

"It's a little ways from Boston, but I'm definitely excited," Delcarmen said. "This is a great opportunity over here with a great bunch of guys. I'll just go compete and see what happens."

The hope with Delcarmen is that he's put some health issues behind him and will return to the guy who put up a 2.81 ERA in 118 innings of relief in 2007-08 and pitched in a pair of World Series games in Boston's sweep of Colorado in '07.

He tried to pitch through the forearm problem last year, but says he came back too soon after a 15-day stint on the disabled list in early July, eventually getting dealt to the Rockies in a frustrating finish to a rough year.

"It seems like I've had great starts and then didn't finish like I normally do these last two years," he said. "Last year, with my forearm and all that stuff, I never really felt the same and then I got traded. I never really felt normal.

"If I would have said something early on, it probably wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did. But it was definitely a lesson learned. I just need to take care of my arm a little more during the season. When pain is pain, it's a little different than trying to get through soreness."

The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder says his arm feels great now and his biggest adjustment is getting used to a new scene on a new coast after spending his last 10 training camps in Fort Myers, Fla., with the Red Sox.

It helps, of course, that there is a little Red Sox reunion in the Mariners pitching staff with Aardsma, Delcarmen, David Pauley and Chris Smith all having played together in Boston. Delcarmen also played with catcher Miguel Olivo last season in Colorado.

"When you get a chance to go somewhere new and feel comfortable right away, it's pretty cool," he said. "I've got that feeling already."

And, yeah, he's thrilled to hear his name being mentioned along with Brandon League and Chris Ray as potential closer candidates with Aardsma sidelined until at least mid-April. Delcarmen had three saves in Boston, where Jonathan Papelbon owned the closer's role.

"With Papelbon out there, I didn't get that many chances," he said. "But I definitely tried to keep my head on right and throw strikes. It's a tough job. Being a middle reliever like I've been most of my career, we get overshadowed a little bit. But you've got to be ready to pitch every day.

"As a closer, you come in close games most of the time. It's definitely pretty cool having your name thrown out there to get a shot like that. I just want to stay healthy and leave it on the field."

Delcarmen has been asked throughout his career if it was tough pitching in his hometown, trying to live up to the expectations of the Red Sox faithful. He says he enjoyed it, but is ready for a new experience in a new organization.

"I spent pretty much my whole career there. I've seen a lot of guys come and go," Delcarmen said. "If you can pitch in Boston, you can pitch anywhere. It was a great ride, but this is definitely a good opportunity here, and I'm looking forward to it."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.