The Mariners let R.A. Dickey walk away after the 2008 season, only to see him flourish with the Mets this season. Now they've decided to dip into the knuckleball pool again, announcing Wednesday that they've signed Charlie Haeger.
Haeger has pitched sparingly at the major-league level with the White Sox, Padres and Dodgers. In 2010 he came out of spring training as the Dodgers' fifth starter and made nine appearances, including six starts, going 0-4 with an 8.40 ERA. For his career, he has some very knuckeballer-like numbers: 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings, but also 6.4 walks per nine.
Haeger was a late-round draft pick of the White Sox in 2001 and quit the game a year later to go to college and try to make it as a pro golfer. He returned to the White Sox system in 2004 armed with the knuckler, which he'd developed in his time off after originally tinkering with it in high school. After not making it out of rookie ball as a traditional pitcher, he reached the majors in a little over two years.
The Mariners also signed infielder Luis Rodriguez, right-hander Chris Smith and lefty Fabio Castro. Like Haeger, they'll get invitations to major-league spring training.
-- David Andriesen
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