Seattle finally wraps up an 11-game homestand with the rubber game of a three-game set against the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers (31-21). The main news Sunday for the Mariners is the continued absence of second baseman Robinson Cano from the lineup.
Cano has now missed four consecutive games with an illness initially and a lingering hand contusion that Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon would like to get resolved before it becomes a lingering issue.
“We’ve got to manage 162 games, not a three-game series . . . As a former player I know how painful bone bruises can be and how nagging they can be,” McClendon said. “The right thing to do is get it quieted down so we can proceed and he can play. We’re almost there. We’ll see how he is tomorrow, but he won’t be in there (Sunday).”
Cano is a creature of habit. He is adamant about getting in his daily work in the batting cage, but he has been unable to do that with this hand injury on the outside of his top (left) hand. Instead, Cano has been in the trainer’s room getting treatment and only able to lift weights and take ground balls.
Also, Nick Franklin is out of the lineup in favor of Willie Bloomquist. Bloomquist was 2-for-4 with a couple RBI including the decisive run in Saturday’s game against the Tigers. Franklin meanwhile is 0-for his last-16 with nine strikeouts.
“Right now he’s just in a funk and he’s got to fight his way out of it,” McClendon said.
Here is the M’s lineup that will face Max Scherzer (6-1, 3.00 ERA)
1. Endy Chavez (L) dh
2. James Jones (L) cf
3. Michael Saunders (L) rf
4. Justin Smoak (s) 1b
5. Kyle Seager (L) 3b
6. Mike Zunino c
7. Dustin Ackley (L) lf
8. Brad Miller (L) ss
9. Willie Bloomquist 2b
LHP Roenis Elias (3-4, 4.02 ERA)
1. Rajai Davis lf
2. Ian Kinsler 2b
3. Miguel Cabrera 1b
4. Victor Martinez (s) dh
5. Torii Hunter rf
6. Austin Jackson cf
7. Nick Castellanos 3b
8. Bryan Holaday c
9. Danny Worth ss
— RHP Taijuan Walker will make his second rehab start on Tuesday for AAA Tacoma in El Paso, Texas. He is scheduled to pitch six innings and near 90 pitches depending on which comes first. In his last outing, Walker pitched three innings and threw 61 pitches with the rust of a near two month layoff showing in his fastball command. This time around Walker wants to focus on his fastball and his curveball.
— LHP James Paxton is “feeling better” but won’t pick up a ball for another seven days while the Mariners are on their seven-game road trip. “We’ll see where we are when we get back off the road,” McClendon said.
— McClendon is very pleased with the progress of his bullpen, how it is shaping up and the pace that it is on innings wise. Seattle finished the month of May with a 2.65 bullpen ERA, 2nd-best in the American League behind Boston at 2.35.
“I’m very pleased at our pace, when you talk about projections. Most of our guys are in that 60-game range where you want to be,” McClendon said. “You’re conscious of that pace . . . If a guy is on a 80, 85-game pace, then that’s alarming, you’ve got problems. That means your starters aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.”