SAFECO FIELD -- The Mariners bullpen has been much maligned over the first 10 days of the season as constant struggles have helped contribute to the team's 2-8 start to the year.
The return of right-handed reliever Tony Zych from the disabled list could help the bullpen find its footing.
Zych was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Friday. A simulated game at Safeco Field on Wednesday went well, giving the team the confidence to bring him back from the DL. Scheduled appearances with Triple-A Tacoma had been derailed due to weather. He made just one appearance, allowing three runs on three hits in his lone inning of work.
Zych had surgery on October 11 in New York with Dr. Stephen O'Brien to address tendonitis and rotator cuff issues in his throwing shoulder.
"Really good. It feels strong. I've been working it pretty hard since the surgery so everything is good," Zych said.
The specific surgery Zych underwent was called a "biceps tendon transfer. Zych tried to give an explanation of exactly what that entails.
"So the long head of the biceps is in the groove, so they took that out, moved it over and tied it into the short head," Zych said, drawing a line from the inside of his arm toward the collarbone of his right shoulder. "So have, essentially, one tendon running up instead of two."
"With the tendon out of the groove, there's no more pinching. That's the biggest thing was it was getting looked in between the joint and slipping out of the groove a little bit and creating another groove, per se. That's why I was feeling so much pain with it. Dr. O'Brien has that surgery to do that. Basically it's a tenodesis without the screw hole. The way it was explained was no matter what, if you get a tenodesis with a screw hole, there's a weak point in your bone. Because there was no rupture (of the biceps) to begin with, there was no point to cause a weak point in the bone so he kind of invented this surgery for this surgery. He had it himself when he was a player in college for football and he would figure out a way to try and fix it."
Zych said he's the first major league pitcher to have the procedure done.
"So it was a little bit of a trial," he said said. "He's done many of them, a lot of athletes, just not at this level, I guess.
"But an unbelievable doctor, he did a great job and has been helping me the whole way also."
Zych appeared in just 17 total games last season with 12 coming with the Mariners. He carried a 3.29 ERA with Seattle in 13 2/3 innings pitched.
Zych said he feels like he has increased range of motion in his shoulder and that he feels his pitches have even more life on them.
"He's excited to get back," manager Scott Servais said. "He looks great. The ball is coming out of hand really good."
Overton appeared in just two games for Seattle after returning from paternity leave last week. He allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings pitched.
The Mariners will transition Overton back to a starting role in Tacoma.
"We carried him because we weren't quite sure where our starters were at coming out of spring training - a couple of the guys - and making sure we had enough length in there," Servais said. "Guys have thrown the ball pretty well, our starting staff has, so it's time to make a move."
Additionally, the Mariners traded RHP Paul Fry to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for an international signing slot.
Fry was designated for assignment earlier this week in order to make room for Mike Freeman on the roster.
Steve Cishek is also expected to head out on a rehab assignment in the coming days. Cishek will make 3-4 appearances before the Mariners re-evaluate what the next step will be. Cishek is returning from hip surgery last October.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 03: Relief pitcher Tony Zych #55 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning at Safeco Field on October 3, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)