Travelers' Povse to join parent Mariners

Posted: June 19, 2017 at 2:19 a.m.

Max Povse

Max Povse

On the day before stormy weather postponed the Arkansas Travelers' game against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Travs pitcher Max Povse was called up to the parent Seattle Mariners.

The team had just returned from its nine-game road trip Saturday night, and Travs Manager Daren Brown called Povse into his office.

Today’s game

Travelers vs. Naturals

WHEN 5:10 p.m. Central (DH)

WHERE Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock

RADIO KARN-AM, 920, in central Arkansas

WEBSITE travs.com

PITCHERS Game 1, Travelers: RHP Dylan Unsworth (5-5, 4.23 ERA); Naturals: Corey Ray (4-4, 4.39). Game 2, Travelers: RHP Brett Ash (5-4, 5.88); Naturals: LHP Foster Griffin (301, 2.55 ERA).

TICKETS $13 box, $9 reserved ($6 kids), $7 general admission ($5 kids). Gates open one hour before start of game.

PROMOTIONS Funday Monday, free train rides.

THE WEEK AHEAD

TODAY vs NW Arkansas, 7:10 p.m.

TUESDAY vs NW Arkansas, 7:10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY vs NW Arkansas, 7:10 p.m.

THURSDAY at Springfield, 7:10

FRIDAY at Springfield, 7:10 p.m.

SATURDAY at Springfield, 6:10 p.m.

SUNDAY at Springfield, 2:10 p.m.

"He started giving me a hard time, messing with me, then he told me the news," Povse, 23, said. "It was just a big shock. Kind of freaked out. Didn't know what to do."

The Mariners announced they called up the 6-foot-8 right-hander Sunday, hours before they closed out their three-game series with the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. The Mariners have seven pitchers on the disabled list, and starters Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma who are not due to rejoin the rotation until this weekend.

"They need help up there," Travs pitching coach Ethan Katz said of the organization's No. 5 prospect, according to MLB.com. "So hopefully [Povse] does a good job up there, and however long they need him, he does what he can."

Mariners Manager Scott Servais acknowledged a comparison between Povse and Houston Astros long-reliever Chris Devenski (4-3, 2.70 ERA), who is an effective firefighter when Astros starters fail to pitch deep into games. Povse said that's the role the Mariners have in mind for him for now.

"He might be that guy we can use in multiple innings out of the bullpen since his stuff has spiked up in the shorter outings," Servais said. "I don't know if he'll be the traditional long man. He certainly is today, if we have any issue... We'll see what he brings."

Normally, a prospect ascends through each class of an organization's farm system, but advancement timelines can change when the major league team's circumstances become more urgent.

Povse is the second Arkansas pitcher to be called up directly to the Mariners, skipping past Class AAA Tacoma. Left-handed reliever Zac Curtis (0-0, 5.79 ERA in MLB) was twice called up for short stints -- most recently June 16, when he pitched three innings of relief in a 10-4 loss to the Texas Rangers in which he gave up 4 hits, 3 runs and 1 walk with 1 strikeout.

Curtis remains on the Mariners' 40-man roster. Povse took left-hander Dillon Overton's place on the 40-man, and Servais expects Povse to stay there.

"It was one of those things he was probably going to be on this year anyway," Servais said. "He's on the 40-man, he'll be a part of the mix, and I hope he's on the 25-man for a long time."

Povse was 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in eight starts during his first season with the Travs. The Mariners gained Povse in a trade package Nov. 28 with the Atlanta Braves that also sent the Mariners right-hander Rob Whalen. The Braves were sent outfield prospect Alex Jackson, the Mariners former 2014 first-round pick who is hitting .301 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI in Atlanta's high Class A Florida Fire Frogs.

Povse will enter the Mariners' bullpen a little rusty. His short appearance at Springfield last Wednesday was his first since he re-injured his hamstring against the Tulsa Drillers on May 20. Against Springfield, he pitched 3 1/3 innings with 3 walks, 2 strikeouts and 0 earned runs.

"He felt really good, stuff was coming out really well," Katz said. "He got better as the game went on, which is totally expected when you have a couple weeks off. His bullpen the other day was really good too, just knocking the rust off for him."

A 2017 call-up was expected for Povse, who pitched 10 scoreless innings for the Mariners with 7 strikeouts, 3 hits and 0 walks during spring training.

"It was just a matter of time whenever they needed his help," Katz said. "They thought the time was right and gave him a chance."

Povse was scheduled to start for the Travs against the Naturals tonight, but his spot will be taken by right-hander Brett Ash (5-4, 5.88). Ash will pitch the second game of the doubleheader, which begins at 5:10 p.m.

But no one in the Travs clubhouse was concerned about his departure.

"Everyone was real supportive," Povse said. "Giving me hugs, telling me congrats -- really happy for me. It's an unbelievable accomplishment. You just have to keep working to be successful."

Sunday's weather postponement was the Travs' seventh of the season, and the Travs have a 5-7 record in resulting six doubleheaders this season.

The doubleheader will mark the end of the Texas League's first half, and the Naturals have already clinched the North Division. The second half that decides the final two playoff spots in the league starts Tuesday. Arkansas was last in the playoffs in 2̶0̶1̶2̶ 2015*, when they lost the semifinals series to the Tulsa Drillers 3-1.

Sports on 06/19/2017

*CORRECTION: The Arkansas Travelers last made the Texas League playoffs in 2015. A previous version of this story listed the incorrect year.