Putnam ready to help struggling bullpen

Putnam ready to help struggling bullpen

SEATTLE -- After just one scoreless rehab inning thrown for Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday, right-hander Zach Putnam is ready to come off the disabled list on Friday. Putnam has been on the DL since July 24 with inflammation in his right shoulder but was with the team in Seattle. Right-hander Andre Rienzo was optioned to Charlotte following Thursday's 13-3 loss to the Mariners to open a roster spot.

"Yes, champing at the bit," said Putnam of his return. "I felt real good. The velocity was up a little bit, but most important, the shoulder felt good."

Putnam has been a pleasant surprise for the bullpen, with a 2.35 ERA and three saves over 33 games. He will be a welcome stabilizing force for a relief crew that has been the subject of recent derision, with 30 runs allowed on 41 hits (seven homers) over the last five games.

Manager Robin Ventura knows there have been some pitchers working out of order late in games, a situation brought about by injuries to Matt Lindstrom and Nate Jones. Ventura also understands that a good bullpen is essential to a winning team.

"You look at teams that are in it every year, they usually have a pretty good bullpen," Ventura said. "That's part of being able to save ... your starters, but being able to mix and match with the bullpen, too. You are seeing different guys come in and pick up the slack. That's what you are seeing when a bullpen is in sync. It's not the same guys every night."

"Given the youth of the 'pen, guys are learning from each other, and I include myself in that," Putnam said. "It's us trying to get better, taking the ups and the downs, and trying to take something from every outing, whether it's a good one or a bad one. Try to take something going into the next outing, watch what other guys do and try and learn from that."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.