ANAHEIM, Calif. — Second baseman Robinson Cano returned Sunday to the Seattle Mariners’ lineup after exiting Saturday’s game when hit in the forehead by an errant infield throw.
“I’m good,” Cano said prior to the game. “No headaches. It just hurts right here (pointing to the spot), but no headaches. Thank God, he didn’t hit me in the eyes.”
A throw by Los Angeles shortstop Taylor Featherston in warmups drills prior to the seventh inning sailed into the Mariners’ dugout and struck Cano on the left side of his forehead.
The ball hit with sufficient impact to ricochet back to first base. It left Cano dizzy, but he never lost consciousness. It also initially raised a large knot on his forehead.
Cano underwent Major League Baseball’s concussion protocols but was diagnosed with only a deep bruise. Treatment reduced the knot to a red mark on his forehead by the time the game ended.
“Honestly, it was just an accident, and I feel terrible about it,” Featherston told the Orange County Register. “I called him after the game, and I apologized.
“I said, ‘I’m a huge fan of yours, and I'm sorry. It just got away. It just slipped.’ It was not a good throw. That’s the bottom line.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon said he didn’t hesitate to play Cano after the two had a morning conversation.
“He said he had a good night’s sleep,” McClendon said, “and he’s ready to play.”
Cano had a walk in four plate appearances Sunday in a 3-2 loss to the Angels.
An open date Monday allowed McClendon to tweak his rotation and avoid starting two left-handers in the upcoming series at San Diego.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker will now jump ahead of lefty Roenis Elias for Wednesday’s finale to the two-game series at Petco Park. Left-hander Mike Montgomery is starting Tuesday in the opener.
“I just did not want to have two left-handers against San Diego,” McClendon said. “They’re a predominantly right-handed-hitting lineup.
“It doesn’t hurt (to give Elias an extra day of rest), but it was simply the fact that San Diego is predominantly right-handed. It just made sense.”
First baseman Logan Morrison got most of a day off Sunday to rest a sore back, but McClendon opted to stick with Mike Zunino at catcher for 12th time in 13 games.
“It’s a combination of (pairing Zunino with) Felix,” McClendon said, “and he’s swinging the bat a lot better.”
Zunino entered Sunday at 5-for-14 with just one strikeout over the previous four games before going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
“He’s keeping his hands up,” McClendon said, “and trying to get to a strong front side, which gives him a little bit better coverage. The fact is he’s getting some positive results. That always makes you feel better.”
Willie Bloomquist replaced Morrison at first base until the final inning. Morrison batted for Bloomquist in the 10th and flied to center..
“(Morrison) has been battling (soreness in) his back for quite some time,” McClendon said. “I’ve got a chance to give him two days (off). It just makes sense with a left-hander on the mound to get him out of there.”
It was five years ago Monday — June 29, 2010 — that Cliff Lee became the first Mariners pitcher in nearly 12 years to pitch three consecutive complete games in a 7-4 victory over the Yankees in New York.
Lee went just eight innings in his next start, an 8-1 victory in Detroit, before he was traded to Texas on July 9, 2010 with Mark Lowe for Matt Lawson, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak.
The last Mariners pitcher before Lee to have three consecutive complete games was, yes, Randy Johnson, who had a three-game run that included two shutouts in July 1998.
Johnson was traded two starts after his streak — to Houston for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and John Halama.
The franchise record for consecutive complete games is six by Mike Moore in 1987. Felix Hernandez has never had more than two complete games in a row. So he’s probably not going anywhere.
Felix Hernandez has a 0.93 ERA (six earned runs in 58 innings) in his last nine starts against the Angels…The Mariners have lost 10 of their last 11 day games. They are 9-14 overall in day games…Kyle Seager’s game-tying homer in the ninth inning was his first RBI in eight games…Fernando Rodney has seven straight scoreless appearances…Nelson Cruz leads the American League with 20 go-ahead RBIs after giving the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the fourth with an RBI double.
The Mariners have an open date Monday before resuming their nine-game trip at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday against the Padres with the first of two games at Petco Park in San Diego.
Lefty Mike Montgomery (2-2, 2.04) will face San Diego right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-6, 5.09) in the opener. The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.