Corcoran key in Mariners' bullpen

Corcoran key in Mariners' bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handed reliever Roy Corcoran has a fastball that usually reaches home plate less than 90 miles an hour, speaks with a thick, southern drawl, and is fearless.

So it seems.

"Not really," he said. "I just act like I am."

The journeyman right-hander -- one of the final cuts of Spring Training -- reported to Triple-A Tacoma with a smile on his face and was preparing for Opening Day in Tacoma when, out of the blue, he received a call from Rainiers manager Daren Brown.

"I thought he was playing an April Fool's joke on me," Corcoran said.

It was no joke. In the week since his unexpected return to the Major Leagues, Corcoran has become an important part of the Mariners' bullpen. He tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in Tuesday night's victory over the Rays, which ended Seattle's four-game losing streak.

"He knows he doesn't have the same stuff as J.J. [Putz] and he'll be the first to tell you that," said bullpen coach Norm Charlton. "If you sit behind the plate, you see everything he throws moves. He knows how to pitch and he's completely fearless."

The 27-year-old from Louisiana spent the entire 2007 season in the Minor Leagues, became a Minor League free agent and signed with Seattle last November. His older brother, Tim, pitched for the Rays the past three seasons and currently is in the Marlins' organization.

Corcoran, a virtual unknown when he reported to camp, became an instant hit when he belted out his own rendition of a Brooks and Dunn song during one of the first "American Idol" segments.

Prior to this season, 290 of his 306 professional games were played in the Minors. He had brief big league stints with the Expos in 2003, and '04 and in '06 with the Nationals. All but two of his appearances came in relief, many of them at the end of games.

"I have been in a lot of tough situations, [so Tuesday night] was nothing new," Corcoran said. "I make pitches and hope for good results. I just go out there, try to throw strikes and keep the ball down."

So far, so good -- and he's one of the guys trying to hold the fort until Putz is activated off the 15-day disabled list.

And even when Putz returns, which remains undetermined, the way Corcoran is throwing the ball and getting hitters out -- he has not allowed a run in three appearances -- there just might be a place for him on the pitching staff, especially if it is expanded to 12 pitchers.

In the meantime, Corcoran will enjoy where he is, wait for a call comes for him to get warmed up, and once in the game, keep throwing the ball where hitters aren't necessarily looking for it.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.