I really like it here with Seattle. I was raised in Western Canada and the Mariners were always the team I followed most. As a free agent this winter, I had six or seven offers. I thought this team was going in the right direction and had a few holes in their bullpen that I could help fill. It worked out well for me.
It's really nice to work so close to my home. The flight from Calgary to Seattle is about an hour, and my wife really likes that compared to the long flights to and from Atlanta and Cincinnati, the two places I played before. Being in close proximity to home gives my family -- my parents, my sisters -- the ability to come down and watch games more often. It makes things much more convenient.
I'm also in my first season in the American League. For me, as a bullpen guy who generally comes into a game late, it's not that big an adjustment. Of course, I have to face designated hitters now, but big-league hitters are big-league hitters. I'm trying to learn some new hitters over here now, but with the turnover in baseball, it's not that big a deal.
I've grown very comfortable in that late inning, setup role. It's the job I've done the last four years now. I'm used to coming in the seventh, eighth or ninth innings and I'm up for whatever they need me to do. It's a fun role and I get a lot of enjoyment from it.
Earlier in my career, I was a starter and I would consider going back to it in the future. But I enjoy the bullpen. As long as I'm pitching, that's what's important to me. There are benefits to both, but to be in the big leagues and to have the chance to pitch every night is pretty special.
Really, I'm thrilled to be healthy now. It was a tough winter rehabbing following elbow surgery. I needed the entire Spring Training to get ready. Usually I'm at Spring Training and I can't wait for the season to get going. This year, I needed the time to get my arm ready. But I feel real good now.
Being healthy makes a big difference. I was worried last year. My hand would go numb while I was pitching. You can't pitch like that. I had to get it figured out and I had to get it done. The surgery proved to be the best-case scenario for me. I'm thankful that it worked out.
After spending his first six seasons in the National League split between Cincinnati and Atlanta, right-handed reliever Chris Reitsma signed a free agent contract with the Mariners in January. Retuning to the mound this past spring following a serious elbow injury last year that ultimately required surgery, Reitsma has a 1.42 ERA over his first seven games with his new team.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.