OAKLAND, Calif. Jamie Burke's last appearance as a pitcher came more than six years ago. That didn't deter the Mariners backup catcher from taking the mound when his manager asked him to Sunday.
A day later, the 36-year-old Burke was still beaming about the moment even though he was charged with the decision in Seattle's 15-inning, 2-1 loss to Detroit.
"It was an exciting moment for me to be able to go out there," Burke said Monday prior to the Mariners' game against the Oakland Athletics. "I just focused on throwing strikes. I know it's a joke me going out there but it's the competitive edge, it's what you want to do."
The Mariners and Tigers were tied at 1-1 through 14 innings when manager Jim Riggleman was forced to make a move after Carlos Jimenez pitched four shutout innings, extending Seattle's bullpen's scoreless streak to 16. Riggleman, who took over the interim manager's job after John McLaren was fired on June 19, had few options.
Jimenez was the fifth reliever Seattle used against the Tigers on Sunday, depleting a staff that was already without closer J.J. Putz (hyperextended right elbow) and missing left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who woke up sore after sleeping wrong on his pitching arm.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was Riggleman's first choice but the durable righty was coming off a 105-pitch outing against the Tigers on Saturday.
"If that situation was up there in September and we were two games out of first, he'd have been in there," Riggleman said. "I wouldn't have felt good about it but he'd have been in there. But where are right now, I said, you know what, we're going to look back on that and say why'd we do that. So I just didn't want to do it."
Several players approached Riggleman about pitching before his decision to go with Burke.
"Dickey offered to pitch, Ichiro (Suzuki) offered to pitch, (Adrian) Beltre, (Willie) Bloomquist, a lot of guys offered to pitch," Riggleman said. "Burke was the guy that came to mind for me, and when he said he had done it a number of times in the minor leagues I just felt safer doing it that way."
BARRETT HOPES TO HAVE SURGERY SOON: Sitting at his locker in street clothes and squinting through two black eyes, San Diego Padres catcher Michael Barrett drew quite the crowd.
Greg Maddux, Monday night's starter against Florida, took a picture of Barrett with his iPhone. Ace Jake Peavy came over and offered consoling words to the injured Barrett.
"You look good," Peavy said. "At least your nose is straight."
It was the first time the Padres saw Barrett since he fouled a ball off his face Wednesday night in a game at Colorado, fracturing three bones and landing on the disabled list for perhaps six weeks. Barrett spent that night in a Denver hospital and returned to San Diego the next day while the team headed to Arizona for a weekend series.
STEINBRENNER OPTIMISTIC: Hank Steinbrenner remains optimistic the New York Yankees can make a playoff push despite a rash of injuries to key players in the first half.
Outfielders Johnny Damon (sprained left shoulder) and Hideki Matsui (knee) are on the 15-day disabled list, and staff ace Chien-Ming Wang (right foot) is out until at least September. Reliever Brian Bruney is also out with a foot injury.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez and catcher Jorge Posada were on the DL earlier this season.
"With what we've got in place right now, we still should be able to make a run," team co-chairman Steinbrenner said Monday night. "We're without Wang, our 19-game winner. That's the biggest blow. We're without Damon for a little while, but he'll be back. Matsui wlll probably be back. It's been a bad year for injuries. The fans got to remember that. Don't get discouraged. Injuries do happen."
BIG PAPI TAKES FIRST LIVE BP SWINGS: David Ortiz strolled to his locker with a confident expression on his face. He joked a sure sign his first batting practice on the field since being injured went well.
Ortiz has been on the disabled list since May 31 because of a partial tear of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in his left wrist. He hit a few long drives before the Red Sox played Minnesota on Monday night.