Max Povse Feels At Home In Rotation

To say the Mariners believe Triple-A Tacoma righthander Max Povse is capable of big things is more than a bit of droll hyperbole regarding his 6-foot-8 stature.

“He could be another Chris Young,” Tacoma manager Pat Listach said. “He’s got a better arm than Chris Young had. He throws harder. Chris was never that (high-velocity) guy, but Chris knew exactly what he was doing.

“With experience, (Povse) could get to that level.”

Young is a 6-foot-10 righthander who recorded a 3.95 ERA over 13 big league seasons with five clubs. The Mariners will take that from Povse, the Braves’ 2014 third-rounder out of UNC Greensboro, whom Atlanta swapped for Alex Jackson after the 2016 season.

The chief challenge at this point for Povse, 24, is one familiar to nearly all tall pitchers: Harnessing those many moving parts into a consistent delivery.

“Sometimes it’s tough,” he said. “It’s taken a long time, but I’m at the point now where I know what’s happening with my body—when things are wrong and how to get back on track.

“Sometimes last year, I couldn’t feel that.”

Part of Povse’s problem last year, in his first year in the Mariners organization, was a strained hamstring that knocked him out for more than a month, but there was the also unexpected challenge of trying to transition into a multi-inning relief weapon.

“Our expectation,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said, “was that, like Dan Altavilla and Edwin Diaz, we could dump him in the bullpen and, instead of getting 92-95 (mph), we might get upper 90s.

“That really didn’t happen. We didn’t see the uptick in the stuff that we thought we might. It took him a while to get over what I think was an unfair development—really not on our part but on my part.”

Povse shifted back to the rotation in the Arizona Fall League.

“He showed the same velocity and downhill plane and three-pitch mix that generally served him well,” Dipoto said. “Right now, his starter value might be more valuable to us than reliever value.”

Povse noted: “It’s what I’m comfortable doing. I love the routine, the buildup and knowing when you’re going to throw. You can just prepare. I like that a lot.”

>> Outfielder Kyle Lewis remains on track for a May 1 return after having another surgical procedure in February on his troublesome right knee. He had arthroscopic clean-up surgery to remove a piece of bone causing irritation.

>> First baseman Evan White, a first-rounder last year out of Kentucky, began his season on April 10 at high Class A Modesto after suffering a strained groin late in spring training.

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