PEORIA, Ariz. -- A reunion between the Mariners and left-hander Jarrod Washburn could be in the works, according to reports, but club officials remain silent on the situation. The anticipated loss of left-hander Cliff Lee for at least the first two weeks of the regular season, which begins on April 5 in Oakland, has sent the Mariners' rotation into uncertainty and it is believed that general manager Jack Zduriencik is looking for additional pitching help outside the organization. As is his policy, the GM refused to comment, but reports by AOL Fanhouse and SI.com the past two days said the Mariners are "considering" bringing back Washburn to help absorb the loss of Lee, who is sidelined with a strained lower abdominal muscle.
Washburn, a free agent, has not returned several phone calls to his Wisconsin home.The veteran lefty said prior to Spring Training that he wanted to continue his career with the Mariners, who traded him to the Tigers prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. After posting an 8-6 record and 2.64 ERA with Seattle, winning AL Pitcher of the Month honors in July, Washburn went 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA for the Tigers. A knee injury, which required surgery, affected his performance in Detroit. Scott Boras, Washburn's agent, told AOL Fanhouse that his client continues to work out and could be ready to pitch within three to four weeks. But the Mariners need help sooner than that. Right-hander Felix Hernandez will start Opening Night against the Athletics, but the rotation remains unsettled after the staff ace. Left-hander Jason Vargas has been impressive this spring while lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith and right-hander Ian Smith, considered rotation locks when Spring Training started, have been sporadic. "It's all about the right situation for Jarrod," Boras told AOL Fanhouse. "He's on the same kind of throwing schedule that other clients have been on when it's taken them a three-to-four week schedule to get ready. It has to be the right team and the right situation. He can afford [financially] to act on that principle." Washburn, who made $10 million last season in the final year of the four-year contract he signed as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, reportedly rejected a $5 million offer from the Twins. It also is unclear how much the Mariners could pay Washburn and stay within the player payroll budget, which is expected to be around $98 million this season.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.