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SEA@SD: Ramirez allows two hits over six innings

Erasmo Ramirez will make his return to the Majors on Tuesday after a month with Triple-A Tacoma, where he was sent to rediscover his control after issuing 29 walks in 53 innings to start the season.

He didn't exactly set the world on fire with the Rainiers, compiling a 3.60 ERA in four starts. But he did walk only four batters in 25 innings, which was good enough to merit a recall to the big leagues -- especially with manager Lloyd McClendon trying to avoid letting his rotation stack up too many innings with the Mariners involved in a playoff race for the first time in several years.

McClendon decided to push Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez back one day each for their next respective starts, which are now Thursday and Friday.

"My job is to look at the whole picture," McClendon said. "Not one start for any one player. I know what we're doing is the right thing to do. It gives them extra days and it keeps them sharp."

With the Mariners, Ramirez is 1-4 with a 4.58 ERA in 11 starts this year. He hasn't won a game for Seattle since April 1, when he beat the Angels, 8-3, in the Mariners' second game of the season.

Meanwhile, Ramirez's opponent on Tuesday, Jacob deGrom, has won his last two starts for the Mets and seems to be getting stronger as his rookie campaign progresses.

deGrom is one of several young pitchers the Mets are watching very closely, in terms of workload, over the second half of the season. GM Sandy Alderson has said they will limit him to around 185 innings this year, and with the success he has had, he is rapidly approaching that mark.

What form that restraint takes remains to be seen. The Mets have discussed all sorts of things, including bumping him to the bullpen or skipping starts. But they have yet to put any of that into practice.

Mostly, they just don't want to mess with a good thing. deGrom is 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA over his last five starts.

"One of the things we talked about since I've been here is when this young pitching is coming sometime during the year, we're either going to have to skip them or give them an extra day or something so that they can maintain some strength," manager Terry Collins said. "As we all know, fatigue leads to injuries. Is there any way to get around it? The hardest part is you gotta keep them throwing. You don't want to give them 10 days without doing anything."

Mariners: Wilhelmsen ready for anything
With Iwakuma and Hernandez pushed back, McClendon is still unsure as to who will start on Wednesday.

McClendon indicated, however, that if long reliever Todd Wilhelmsen wasn't used on Monday or Tuesday that he would be a strong candidate. McClendon has said several times he's intrigued by Wilhelmsen's potential as a starter, though he figured that experiment wouldn't go into effect until next spring at the earliest.

But with the 6-foot-6 right-hander throwing 51 pitches while allowing just one hit with four strikeouts against the Angels during their 16-inning loss on Friday, Wilhelmsen is already getting close to what the Mariners might need to stretch him into a starting role.

Wilhelmsen, who has posted a 2.35 ERA in 35 games this season, says he's taking everything as it comes at this point.

"I just try to keep the same routine every day," he said. "I'm a long guy that had a spot start. I don't know if that's really uncommon. This is a new position for me, but I'm just doing what I can to help my team when it's my turn to do it."

Mets: DH rule means more playing time for outfielders
Collins has had to juggle playing time in left field between four outfielders -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Bobby Abreu, Eric Young and Chris Young. That task has been made a little easier with the designated hitter rule in effect during New York's Interleague series in Seattle.

"We've been looking for at-bats for some guys, and these three games will allow us that," Collins said. "We've been looking forward to these three games for a while."

Chris Young and Eric Campbell started in left field and at first base, respectively, on Monday against left-hander Roenis Elias, with regular first baseman Lucas Duda shifting to DH. Abreu, meanwhile, is scheduled to DH both Tuesday and Wednesday, with Eric Young and Nieuwenhuis both likely to see outfield action. Chris Young left Monday in the eighth inning with a tight calf and is day to day.

"When we first got Bobby Abreu here, we talked about the fact that we were getting ready to play the Yankees, and the importance of the Interleague games when we're in an American League park and we have the DH," Collins said. "It allows us to have his bat in the lineup. We don't have to worry about taking him out for anything."

Worth noting
• To make room for Ramirez, the Mariners optioned Justin Smoak to Tacoma. Smoak has a slash line of .210/.279/.356 in 68 games with Seattle this season.

• The Mets' bullpen has allowed three earned runs in its last 22 innings (nine games).

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