CLEVELAND -- Despite a rugged six-day stretch in which he lost four games in the final at-bat, Brandon League remains the Mariners' closer, manager Eric Wedge said prior to Saturday's afternoon game against the Indians.
League will be given the day off on Saturday because of his heavy recent workload, but otherwise is still the man to whom Wedge will turn in save situations.
League, who had a 2.08 ERA and was 9-for-9 in save situations just a week ago, has since gone 0-4 with three blown saves and a 30.00 ERA in three innings, becoming the first reliever in franchise history to record a loss in four straight outings.
Wedge has talked with League and plans to stick with the 28-year-old, who is filling in for injured closer David Aardsma this season.
"It's not so much re-evaluation as just finding out where he is. You've got to be careful how you phrase that," Wedge said. "I don't want to mislead anybody. I talked to him a little last night, and today I'll give him the day off because he needs it, physically, and it'll be good for him mentally, too.
"We'll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there. We'll take it day by day. He's still our closer. If we need somebody to close today, we'll go with Jamey Wright. He's been in that setup role, and you always need somebody to pick you up when your closer isn't available. Today is a good day for [League] to watch a ballgame and go from there."
Wedge feels that League has been a little up with his sinker the past few games, but that he has also been the victim of some difficult circumstances.
"The ball is coming out of his hand good. The action is good," Wedge said. "I think everybody has to understand, it hasn't all been just him. There's a couple of plays we haven't made behind him, a couple of ground balls that found holes. You just have to deal with that.
"Granted, he hit a couple of guys the other day, and that made things difficult for him. But if you look at us as a ballclub right now, we were in position to win that last extra-inning game at home, and that would have been four straight series. We were in great position to win two of three in Baltimore and great position to win last night.
"We're sitting here on a six-game losing streak, but we could easily be sitting here with five series wins in a row and 1-0 in this series. That's how fragile it is and how close we are."
League wasn't dwelling on his recent struggles when he was on the mound on Friday as the Indians scored three times to overcome a two-run deficit, a rally capped by Travis Hafner's two-run walk-off homer.
"The last thing I'm thinking about is [previous games]," League said. "But after the game, it's a different situation. It's tough and hard, but you've got to do it. We play every day, and it's a long season. You have to stay positive."
Gray arrives, Cortes sent to Tacoma
CLEVELAND -- Right-hander Jeff Gray joined the Mariners on Saturday after being claimed off waivers from the White Sox, and he will be available immediately in a middle-relief role for a team looking to add depth to its bullpen corps.
Manager Eric Wedge said that Gray's presence will allow Aaron Laffey and David Pauley to be used more in later-inning roles if needed.
Gray just pitched three scoreless innings for the White Sox against the Angels on Tuesday but was designated for assignment the following day to make room for the returning Jake Peavy. In six appearances, Gray posted a 2.70 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.
"It did surprise me," Gray said of his release, "but I'm happy to be here, and hopefully, I can help these guys out. Chicago was a great place to play, and every time I've been to Seattle, it's been awesome to play there. So I'm excited, and we'll see what happens."
Gray, 29, joins his fourth Major League team, having also pitched for the A's and Cubs. For his career, he is 1-1 with a 4.36 ERA in 42 games.
Starting fresh with a new organization isn't a new challenge for Gray, who had signed with the White Sox on a Minor League contract and now will take his shot with the Mariners.
"That's baseball," he said. "I've always lived by, 'They give you the ball, you go throw it.' Hopefully, I can do the same here and win some ballgames."
Gray throws a sinker, slider, changeup and curveball.
"Hopefully somebody misses one of those," he said with a smile.
Rookie reliever Dan Cortes, who pitched just once during a two-week stint with Seattle, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday to make room for Gray on the 25-man roster.
The hard-throwing Cortes pitched one scoreless inning, on May 7 in a 6-0 loss to the White Sox at Safeco Field, allowing one hit. He made his Major League debut last September and went 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four games.
"[Cortes] needs to pitch," said manager Eric Wedge. "I've never had a young guy come up and sit as much as he has. But it's a product of our starting pitching going so deep in ballgames, and we're in every game. So there are guys you're going to use. We need to get him down to pitch and get going. He has a real good chance to be part of this future here, but he needs to go pitch and get regular work right now."
Kelley, Gutierrez continue to make strides
CLEVELAND -- Right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley, on the mend after undergoing partial Tommy John surgery on Sept. 1, will fly to Jackson, Tenn., on Sunday to join the Mariners' Double-A club and begin a Minor League rehab assignment.
Kelley threw 25 pitches on Friday in a simulated bullpen session and "looked great, felt good," according to manager Eric Wedge.
Kelley is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on June 1 and figures he's on track to do that if the team is willing to create a roster spot for him at that time. He said that the plan is for him to pitch three or four games for Double-A Jackson in warm weather and then join the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
If all goes well, Kelley could be a nice addition to the Mariners' bullpen, as he went 8-5 with a 4.31 ERA for the club in 63 appearances over the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, outfielder Franklin Gutierrez continued his rehab stint with Tacoma with a 2-for-4 night, with a double and two walks, on Friday at Oklahoma City as the designated hitter. He's been hitting the ball well of late, raising his average to .286, and is slated to play nine innings in center field on Saturday for the Rainiers.
The Gold Glove center fielder, already recovering from a difficult bout with digestive problems, has finally gotten back on track after being sidelined for four games last week by the flu.
"He still just needs to play right now," said Wedge.