Kinney taking on bigger role in bullpen

Kinney taking on bigger role in bullpen

Kinney taking on bigger role in bullpen
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Josh Kinney has gone from a temporary midseason addition to a valued late-inning reliever over the past two months, highlighted again by Sunday's critical situation when he retired Mike Trout and Torii Hunter after starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed two runners in the eighth inning of the 2-1 win.

Kinney, 33, pitched the first three months of the season with Triple-A Tacoma and threw just one-third of an inning in one appearance in his first seven games with the Mariners. Manager Eric Wedge gradually began working the veteran into more situations, and now that Brandon League and Steve Delabar have been traded, he's inherited even a larger role.

"Josh has some experience and has some big-game experience," Wedge said. "This is a guy that's just worked so hard from Spring Training on. We had a good conversation at the end of Spring Training. He went down there to Triple-A and really went right after what we talked about, and he deserves to be up here.

"Now he's pitching more meaningful innings for us. He's handled left-handers OK and he's done a real nice job."

Though Kinney pitched a pair of World Series games for St. Louis in 2006, he appeared in only 21 games that season as a similar midseason addition. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008 and eventually joining the White Sox last year, he'd never again pitched that many Major League games in a season until now.

His 21 appearances for the Mariners going into Monday's action equaled his career high, and he's posted a 3.98 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.