OAKLAND -- Hector Noesi was on a short leash with the Mariners this season. A two-game leash, it turns out, as the 27-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment Friday after giving up a walk-off home run to the A's Coco Crisp in Seattle's 3-2 loss Thursday night.
The Mariners recalled rookie right-hander Dominic Leone from Triple-A Tacoma to take Noesi's place in the bullpen. Leone, 22, had a strong spring with the Mariners, and now he will get his first shot with the Major League club after saving 16 games last year for Class A Clinton and Double-A Jackson.
Manager Lloyd McClendon said Leone came very close to making the team this spring and "is a good fit." He declined to outline a specific role for the Mariners' 12th-best prospect, but the skipper said Leone has the talent to pitch in big situations as needed.
"As my old manager used to say, if you pitch good, you're real long. If you pitch bad, you're short," McClendon said with a smile. "He's a talented young man, capable of multiple innings. I can tell you this. I will not be afraid to put him in impactful situations because he's that good and we feel that good about him. I think he adds a lot to this bullpen."
Noesi is out of Minor League options, and the Mariners kept him on their original 25-man roster after a solid spring, hoping to harness his promising arm despite a difficult track record in Seattle. But he gave up two runs in his first inning of mop-up relief in the Mariners' 8-2 victory in Anaheim on Wednesday, then surrendered Crisp's game-winning home run when he left a fastball up over the plate on the second pitch he threw after being summoned into a tie game in the 12th inning.
"Command is the biggest thing," McClendon said. "It's not so much the pitches, it's the location. If you have good fastball command, you should have success in this league. I did see better command [this spring]. But the last couple outings, it just wasn't there."
Noesi is 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in his two appearances this year and 2-14 with a 6.13 ERA in 36 games over three seasons with the Mariners, including 19 starts. He was 2-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 30 outings with the Yankees as a rookie in 2011 before he was included in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade.
Leone put up a 1.80 ERA in nine Cactus League games, allowing just two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out 10 in 10 innings.
The hard-throwing right-hander was a 16th-round Draft pick in 2012 out of Clemson, where he was a teammate of Mariners shortstop Brad Miller. Leone has spent just one full season in the Minors, but moved quickly from Class A Clinton and High Desert to Jackson last year and then led the Arizona Fall League with six saves while posting a 3.00 ERA in 11 games with 15 strikeouts and one walk.
"When I got drafted, I made it a goal to just keep pushing the pace," Leone said. "I understand this is a business and there are numbers involved and guys in front of you or whatever, but I didn't let that affect me. I just went about my business, did my work and didn't really keep in mind how fast I was moving.
"When I got to Jackson last year I kind of realized, 'Whoa, this is my first full season and this is the real deal.' I didn't want to let off the gas pedal. I wanted to keep going."
Leone got a call Friday morning from the Mariners in Tacoma, caught a plane to Oakland and went out and played catch with a football with fellow Mariners relievers before Friday's game, as is their early-afternoon custom.
The enormity of a Major League stadium can be imposing for a rookie, and he said the O.co Coliseum third deck "just kind of swallows you up," but he's eager to get his first shot at pitching in a big league game.
"I want to just come in and contribute," he said. "If they need an inning, I've got you an inning. If you need two, whatever. I'm not going to be a guy that comes up and demands a certain role, especially at this point in the game. I'm just excited to get out there and throw and compete and hopefully put some W's in the win column for us."