The Seattle Mariners are placing backup catcher Curt Casali on paternity leave as Casali’s wife Rene entered labor during Thursday night’s walk-off win, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. With the M’s desirous of retaining three catchers on the roster, the club will be calling up 29-year-old journeyman backstop Brian O’Keefe from Triple-A Tacoma. Though he’s been on the taxi squad before, this will be O’Keefe’s first time ever called up to the show, after nine years as a minor leaguer.
The veteran backstop was a 7th round pick in the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, and later brought to the Mariners in 2019 by way of the Minor League Rule-5 Draft (different than the Major League version, but similar in concept). He’s spent time with the Arkansas Travelers and the Tacoma Rainiers over the past couple years, earning respect and appreciation for his handling of staffs while putting up solid offensive numbers. While it’s plausible the righty-swinging Albany, NY native does not ultimately appear in a game over the next few days, simply reaching the bigs (and collecting a few big league paychecks) is a massive accomplishment well earned given his near-decade of toil. Given Seattle’s desire to give Cal Raleigh rest when possible, particularly against left-handed pitching as Seattle will face tonight and tomorrow, so hopefully O’Keefe’s familiarity with pitchers like Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Matt Brash, and others will play a positive role.