On the same day that lefty James Paxton returned from the disabled list, the Mariners could see right-hander Felix Hernandez and outfielder Mitch Haniger moving Wednesday toward the end of their recovery programs.
If all goes well, Hernandez and Haniger, who each suffered injuries April 25 at Detroit, could head out next week on minor-league rehab assignments. That would be the final step before returning to active duty.
Hernandez reported no day-after problems Wednesday following an encouraging bullpen workout Tuesday in Denver. He tested his recovery from bursitis in his shoulder by throwing his entire repertoire in a 30-pitch session.
Plans call for Hernandez to face hitters while pitching a few simulated innings either Friday or Saturday. If all goes well, he would then depart for a rehab assignment likely consisting of two minor-league starts.
While not certain, Hernandez would likely make his first rehab start June 7 or June at Triple-A Tacoma, which opens a seven-game homestand Monday at Cheney Stadium.
Haniger tested his strained right oblique muscle Wednesday by running and said: "I felt good. Nothing worse." That represents encouraging news because Haniger suffered a minor setback about 10 days ago while making a similar push.
Plans call for him to take part in pre-game batting practice Friday and — barring setbacks — also on Saturday and Sunday.
"If that gets revved up," manager Scott Servais said, "he could possibly go out on a rehab (assignment) on Monday."
Haniger also figures to do his rehab work at Tacoma. If all goes well, he could be ready to return to active duty by the time the Rainiers conclude their homestand on June 11.
Hernandez was 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA in five starts prior to his injury. Haniger was batting .342 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 21 games.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners