SEATTLE -- As a long-time starter, Oliver Perez is used to pitching on five day's rest. That's a rare occurrence for a trusted left-handed reliever, but the 32-year-old seemed to benefit greatly from a five-day break before throwing a perfect ninth inning in Friday's 2-0 loss to the Angels.
Perez was one of the Mariners' top relievers in the first half of the season, posting a 1.75 ERA with opponents hitting .208 against him in his first 38 appearances. But since the All-Star break, Perez has a 15.95 ERA with a .450 opponents' batting average in 11 games, even after the 1-2-3 outing Friday.
Perez said he was ready to pitch every day, but he was never even asked to warm up in the Oakland series after allowing six runs on five hits and two walks, while getting just two outs on 40 pitches in a 15-3 loss at Texas on Saturday.
"That was one of those days where if I'd thrown the rosin bag, they'd probably have hit it for a base hit," Perez said. "I was just trying to get outs and get out of there. But when you get a break like this, those five days help you feel really good and fresh. That's very important."
Perez said he knew his velocity had been dropping, but he's tried to pace himself. He just became a reliever last year and said he's still learning how to stay fresh throughout the long season, with a key being how much throwing to do between appearances.
"At this time of the year, guys get a little tired," Perez said. "You try to save your throws to be 100 percent in games."
Manager Eric Wedge said it was pretty clear Perez benefited from the break.
"He'll never make any excuses, but I think that's what it was," Wedge said. "You saw the way he was arm-side high so much, that's usually a good indicator of a guy trying to make up for [being tired]. He's such a competitor. To have those five days off and be able to get in the game last night and see the velocity, the looseness of the delivery, the consistency of his release point, those are things you like to see.
"When you have a young bullpen and you've got guys who are getting it done, you're going to go to them as much as you can to have a chance to win ballgames. We've been in a lot of close games this year that haven't turned our way, but you're still in them and you're fighting to win those games. You're going to use the guys you think give you the best chance, and he's been right in the middle of that."
Recovering Franklin appears as pinch-hitter
SEATTLE -- Nick Franklin made his first appearance for the Mariners since receiving five stitches following a home-plate collision with A's catcher Derek Norris on Tuesday. After missing his third straight start to allow his left knee to continue to heal, Franklin entered Saturday's game as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning, driving in a run with a groundout to third. Franklin remained in the lineup for the rest of the game.
Veteran shortstop Brendan Ryan got the start against Angels lefty Jason Vargas, with Brad Miller sliding over to second base.
Franklin, who is hitting .239 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in 69 games, said before the game that he felt close to returning.
"I'm feeling pretty good. It just takes a little time to heal," Franklin said. "Yesterday I was able to run a little and take some ground balls. Hopefully I'll be back in there [Sunday]."
Manager Eric Wedge had Dustin Ackley back in center field on Saturday after playing him at second base on Friday in place of Franklin, and the manager said that versatility could pay off in the long run.
"Early on when we made the transition, we wanted to stay away from that," Wedge said. "But once he got a little time under his belt in the outfield, we've talked about it and I feel like it's OK for him. You've got a guy you're comfortable playing at first, second, left or center field. And I don't think that's a bad thing. As he continues to develop and some of these other kids develop, who knows where he'll end up? So I'm very comfortable with it."
Wedge used Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist as an example of how such a versatile player can help a club.
"Zobrist came up as a shortstop and they started bouncing him around," Wedge said. "And how valuable is he to that team, not just as an offensive player but for the flexibility he provides with all the other guys? They're able to put their best lineup out there because of the way Ben can move around."
Mariners still undecided on September callups
SEATTLE -- Major League clubs will be allowed to expand their rosters with September callups from the Minors in a week, but Mariners manager Eric Wedge said discussions are still underway as to how many players Seattle will add to its 25-man roster.
"We have had some meetings, but we haven't pinned anything down," Wedge said Saturday. "There are a couple guys we know are going to come up for sure, but there are some question marks beyond that. I don't want to get into that mode just yet. But we have had a couple meetings and we've got time to talk a little more."
Wedge did acknowledge that playing time will get even more crowded in some situations, including the outfield, where Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse and Endy Chavez are already splitting time.
"I told them yesterday, it's only going to get more difficult as we get into September and start calling guys up," Wedge said. "We're going to put the best lineup out there that allows us to win the ballgame. And we've got some priorities with different guys that we feel we need to stick with.
"If you're in the lineup, you have to be out there ready to go. If you're not in the lineup, you need to be ready in case we need you in the middle of the game. It's as simple as that. If I look down and I don't feel like you're ready, then that tells me you don't want to play for a couple days. And that's fine, too. You decide how you want to handle it."
Several veterans in Tacoma are potential callups, with catcher Jesus Sucre, infielder Carlos Triunfel, outfielders Carlos Peguero and Franklin Gutierrez and pitchers Tom Wilhelmsen, Blake Beavan, Bobby LaFromboise and Hector Noesi all players who've been with the Mariners at some point this season.
Or the club could look to give a little experience to young prospects, such as outfielders Stefen Romero and Abraham Almonte or pitchers Taijuan Walker, James Paxton or Logan Bawcom. But none of those decisions need to be made yet. Tacoma doesn't end its season until Sept. 2 and most players likely will come up after that, unless the Rainiers win their Pacific Coast League division and make the playoffs. They're currently four games out of first place with 10 games to go.
• After striking out 10 batters in six innings on Friday, Felix Hernandez trailed only Yu Darvish of the Rangers among Major League pitchers in that category. Darvish is at 214, with Hernandez at 192. However, Detroit's Max Scherzer struck out 11 on Saturday to overtake Hernandez with 196 strikeouts.
Hernandez is averaging 9.36 strikeouts per nine innings and is on pace for 245 for the season. His career high is 232 in 2010.
• Hernandez's 10 strikeouts marked his 25th career game with double-digit K's, but only the second time he has rung up 10 in fewer than seven innings.
• Beginning with Saturday's matchup against Vargas, the Mariners are facing left-handed starters in four of their next five games. The Mariners have hit .228 this season against lefty starters, compared to .249 against right-handed starters, but they do have a 19-21 record against southpaws compared to 40-47 against righties.