SEATTLE — The ripple effect in the Mariners’ bullpen from Joaquin Benoit being unavailable is likely to last at least a few more days.
Benoit, 38, wasn’t available Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Oakland because of renewed back tightness extending into his shoulder, which previously surfaced in spring training.
"I’ve been trying to pitch through it," he said, "but I’m trying to be smart. You can’t jeopardize the whole season by trying to be a man. We’ll see how everything goes the next two or three days. I think I’m playing catch (on Tuesday)."
Benoit pitched a scoreless inning last Friday — his second outing of the season — but he wasn’t available Sunday for the eighth inning, his usual spot, when Felix Hernandez handed a 1-0 lead to the bullpen.
The Mariners turned instead to Joel Peralta, who gave up a leadoff homer to Marcus Semien, which tied the game. The Athletics scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a two-out homer by Coco Crisp against Nick Vincent.
"It’s something I’ve had in the past," Benoit said. "We’re working on it and, hopefully, it goes away. It’s not something that I’m really worried about. I’m just going to work on it and get it better."
FIRST STEP FOR FURBUSH
Lefty reliever Charlie Furbush threw Monday for the first time since undergoing a series of blood injections — Regenokine therapy — in hopes of accelerating the healing process in his ailing left shoulder.
"Was out to 75 feet," Furbush said, "and it felt good. It’s good to feel good. We’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow, and we’ll do it again."
Furbush agreed to the procedure after tightness lingered in his shoulder the day after throwing workouts in spring training. He missed the final three months of last season because of biceps tendinitis and a slight tear in his rotator cuff.
"I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy the first day out there," he said. "But as we move forward, I’ll definitely be amping it up and be seeing what I’ve got."
Even under a best-case scenario, Furbush isn’t expected to be game-ready for at least one month.
COLD BATS OR TOUGH LUCK
What to make of the Mariners’ attack after watching it score just four runs over the weekend in three losses to Oakland while facing Eric Surkamp, Rich Hill and Chris Bassitt?
"The big thing is we just didn’t any hits with runners in scoring position all weekend," manager Scott Servais said. "We’ve got to put the weekend behind us and look forward to Texas.
"I don’t think anybody in our division is tearing the cover off the ball. We’re going to be fine. We’re six games in."
Even so, the Mariners have what is generally viewed as the American League’s toughest early schedule. The Athletics are their only opponent in their first seven series who finished last season with a losing record.
"I don’t want to read too much into it," Servais said. "I want to go about our work the same way we’ve gone about it. With the same kind of energy in our clubhouse.
"Of course, when you’re not hitting, it looks like you’re not trying. It looks like, `Oh, these guys are dead. They came out flat today. They don’t care.’ When you don’t hit, that’s what it looks like to the normal fan."
Some numbers: The Mariners, through Sunday, had the best on-base percentage and the second-best slugging percentage among the five American League West Division clubs.
They also had the worst batting average on balls in play in the majors at .229. The major-league average is .294. That suggests the Mariners have, to at least some extent, have simply been unlucky.
"It’s baseball," Servais said. "When you have good players, with track records, it usually turns around."
LET IT ROLL
Look for the Mariners to keep their rotation in line on the upcoming three-city road trip despite two open dates in the upcoming week (Thursday and April 18).
"I’m a big believer in just keeping the guys in line," Servais said. "If they pick up an extra day, good for them. It’s a long season, and an extra day really isn’t going to hurt."
That positions right-hander Nathan Karns to start Friday’s series opener against the Yankees in New York. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are slotted for the final two games in the series.
After another open date, Wade Miley will start the April 19 series opener in Cleveland, followed by Taijuan Walker and Karns. The road trip concludes April 22-24 at Anaheim with Hernandez, Iwakuma and Miley.
BOMBING THE RANGERS
Robinson Cano entered the series Monday with homers in four straight games against Texas, including all three games in last week’s season-opening series in Arlington.
Ken Griffey Jr. holds the record for a Rangers opponent with homers in seven straight games in 1994.
Five opponents hit homers against Texas in five straight games: Jim Pagliaroni (Boston), Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams (New York Yankees), and George Brett and Bo Jackson (Kansas City).
It was 20 years ago Tuesday — April 12, 1996 — that Ken Griffey Jr. hit two home runs and led the Mariners to a 9-6 victory over Toronto at the Skydome.
One of Griffey’s homers was particularly memorable: It was a monster shot over the Hard Rock Cafe in right field.
The Mariners were 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position while getting swept by Oakland in a three-game weekend series…first baseman Adam Lind entered the series with 18 homers in 51 career games against Texas. The only active players with more are Boston DH David Ortiz (32 in 123 games) and New York DH Alex Rodriguez (20 in 127 games)…Felix Hernandez moved into second place Sunday on the franchise’s all-time list by appearing in his 336 game as a pitcher. He moved past reliever Mike Jackson, who made 335 appearances (1988-91 and 1996). The franchise leader is Jeff Nelson at 432 (1992-95, 2001-03 and 2005).
The Mariners and Rangers continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday in a match-up of left-handed starters at Safeco Field. Wade Miley (0-0, 7.50 ERA) will face Texas’ Derek Holland (0-0, 5.40).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
After the series concludes at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, the Mariners have an open date before embarking on a three-city trip to New York, Cleveland and Anaheim.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners