SEATTLE -- The Mariners made room for Cliff Lee on their roster by pulling a bit of a surprise.
The club optioned right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley, who had been one of the major bright spots in the bullpen in 2009 and who had put up a 2.57 ERA in seven appearances this season, to Triple-A Tacoma.
But with the rest of the arms in the Seattle bullpen either being out of Minor League options or, in the case of Kanekoa Texeira, a Rule 5 Draft pick that would have to be returned to the Yankees if taken off the 25-man roster, it came down to the basic reality that the Mariners don't want to designate any of their relievers for assignment. They don't want to run the risk of losing them via the waiver wire -- even righty Jesus Colome, who made the team as a non-roster invitee and hasn't pitched since April 18, a span of 10 games.
"It's a tough business," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "All of us up here didn't particularly want to make that move because we felt he was pitching better and better, but the same fact is that he's pitching one out of five or every six days, so this time, it will benefit him to go down and get some work and continue his progression.
"You look at his last outing in Kansas City and you look at his velocity, up to 94, 95 mph. I thought his slider was better and he threw a couple nice changeups, so he'll be part of our organization as we move forward and continue to help us. Just right now, it was the right move."