"I packed like it was for the rest of the season," he said Saturday, anticipating he might not make a return flight to Seattle. "I brought an extra suitcase. I figured it would be easier to unpack when I got home."
Washburn's strategy paid off when the Mariners traded him to the Detroit Tigers on Friday morning. Along with his extra luggage, he caught a flight from Dallas to Cleveland, arriving around midnight, which led to momentary confusion.
Unaware the Tigers-Indians game had dragged into the 13th inning, Washburn was puzzled when his taxi cab passed Progressive Field en route to his hotel.
"I figured when the lights were still on that they were cleaning out the ballpark," he said. "When I got to my room I turned on the TV and saw the game just ended."
Washburn is probably fortunate that he missed the 5-hour, 2-minute, 490-pitch game, which ended in a 6-5 loss for his new team. The left-hander did gain significant ground in the standings, though. The Mariners are in third place in the AL West and nine games out of first while the Tigers lead the AL Central by 1½ games over the Chicago White Sox.
"I go in one day from being on the edge of the race to being in first place," Washburn said. "That's a good thing."
The Mariners acquired left-hander Luke French and minor leaguer Mauricio Robles in the trade. Washburn is 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA in 20 starts this season and is scheduled to start Tuesday night at Comerica Park against Baltimore.
Washburn, 34, is 106-106 since making his big league debut for the Angels in 1998. He went 18-6 when the Angels won the World Series in 2002.
"I had never been traded in my life," he said. "All I'm worried about is pitching for the Detroit Tigers and getting another ring. The playoffs are an awful lot of fun and I want to get back."
Washburn spent most of Saturday introducing himself to his new teammates.
"I don't know a soul in here," he said as he looked around the clubhouse. "I've played against them. I know them that way, but not personally."