Shawn Kelley has been through a lot, even for a guy who's been pitching for a while. He had Tommy John surgery in 2003. Fast-forward and most of us remember his severe oblique strain in 2009. Once he was back from that and re-establishing himself, he needed partial Tommy John surgery, which is a thing that doctors do. I'd never heard of partial Tommy John surgery before, but Kelley had it, and it kept him out of action for some time.
He returned to the Majors last September. His fastball wasn't his old fastball, and his slider wasn't his old slider, but he didn't allow a run over ten appearances, striking out ten while walking two. It was a step in the right direction. Then this spring, Kelley threw nearly 14 innings, allowing four runs and a walk while whiffing 11. We've grown accustomed to Kelley posting strong ratios, and he looked to be just about a sure thing for the Mariners bullpen.
He made the Mariners bullpen for the trip to Japan. In Japan, Kelley hung a slider to Yoenis Cespedes that Cespedes turned into a game-winning home run. Kelley was one of three consecutive Mariners relievers who allowed a home run in the game. But Kelley's the only one of them who has to deal with this consequence:
The #Mariners have announced that RHP Shawn Kelley has been optioned to AAA Tacoma. Roster is at 27 players; need to be at 25 by 2 pm Wed.— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) April 3, 2012
That's a surprise. And no, Kelley isn't being demoted just because he gave up a homer to Yoenis Cespedes, but one figures that were it not for the homer, Kelley might be sticking around. Jack Zduriencik has said that Kelley has things he knows he needs to work on, implying on-the-field issues and off-the-field issues. Or maybe it only implies on-the-field issues, but look how I just made you think it implies off-the-field issues with my irresponsible speculation. Words are so powerful!
What this actually means is not a whole lot. If Kelley goes to Tacoma and pitches well, he probably won't be in triple-A for that long. Bullpens turn over. What this provides is insight into how the Mariners view Shawn Kelley. They, or some of them, see Kelley as a fringe-type at the moment. Maybe they're right or maybe they're wrong, but it's interesting that they'd apparently rather have Steve Delabar.
Because Delabar's still on the roster. There are two more cuts coming before tomorrow afternoon, but I'd expect those to be Alex Liddi and one of the lefties. That Charlie Furbush vs. Lucas Luetge battle is coming right down to the wire. I briefly considered writing a post about Charlie Furbush vs. Lucas Luetge, but then I realized I was considering writing a post about Charlie Furbush vs. Lucas Luetge, and, nothing against Charlie Furbush vs. Lucas Luetge, but that's not where the traffic is. I don't know where the traffic is, but I know it isn't there.
So down goes Shawn Kelley, as he'll join Chance Ruffin at the good end of the Tacoma bullpen. Between this, that homer, and Louisville's loss in that basketball game, Shawn Kelley has had better weeks.