SEATTLE — As the Mariners approach the 40-game mark, which is when clubs typically begin assessing their strengths and weaknesses, the growing sentiment among club officials is much the same as it was entering spring training.
They like their club and see no reason to make a move; at least no major move beyond what they already have on hand.
"It’s 25 guys and the coaching staff that were bound together when we left spring training," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "They got through a rough patch with that five-game losing streak here at home and pulled through just fine.
"They’re a close-knit unit. I love the camaraderie in the clubhouse. They have fun with one another. They’re enjoying what they do. Really all elements of the team (are clicking)."
The Mariners see no reason to address their rotation, which has been strong and has James Paxton performing well at Triple-A Tacoma. Their bullpen, aside from Friday’s stumble, has exceeded expectations despite a series or injuries.
Veteran setup man Joaquin Benoit is expected to return Tuesday from the disabled list and should provide a boost. Lefty Charlie Furbush could be back by the end of the month.
Dipoto is also pleased by the lineup’s performance; it entered Saturday averaging 4.51 runs per game, which ranked fourth among the 15 American League clubs.
"The offensive machine is churning like we had hoped to see it churn," he said. "I think our lineup versus lefties is starting to come together very nicely. I think our lineup versus righties is only going to get better."
So any roster move to add help, if there is one later in the season, is likely to be one necessitated by an injury — and even that help could come from within the organization.
First baseman/outfielder Stefen Romero continues to rake at Tacoma. First baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro and utilityman Shawn O’Malley, among others, have big-league experience and rate as viable replacements.
Club officials are even starting to view Double-A Jackson outfielder Tyler O’Neill as a possible late-season promotion. Switching right-hander Edwin Diaz to the bullpen at Jackson put him on a faster track to the big leagues.
"We won’t be the greatest team in history," Dipoto said. "We'll meet some adversity, I’m sure. I’m sure something will pop up as the next months go on, and we identify where we need to go."
But nothing jumps out at this point. The Mariners like what they have.
`THUMBS UP’ ON RELIEVERS
Right-hander Joaquin Benoit and lefty Charlie Furbush each had encouraging simulated outings Saturday against hitters in their efforts to work their way back to the active roster.
"They felt great coming out of it," manager Scott Servais said. "So thumbs up. Everyone is moving in the right direction."
Benoit characterized his simulated outing as the "best" he’s felt this season. He hasn’t pitched since April 21 because of shoulder inflammation, which first surfaced in spring training.
Servias said Benoit might make one rehab appearance at Tacoma, but club officials are leaning toward activating him prior to Tuesday’s series opener at Baltimore.
"He was huge in the bullpen construction over the off-season," Servais said. "It sets up everybody else really well. He’s a big part of what we envisioned being."
Furbush opened the season on the disabled list because of biceps tendinitis in his shoulder and hasn’t pitched since last July. He will likely work another simulated game, probably at Tacoma, before heading to Arizona to continue his rehab plan.
If all goes well, Furbush could rejoin the roster by the end of the month.
It didn’t hurt them against Tampa Bay, but the Mariners paid a price Friday for their inability to produce once they put runners in scoring position.
They were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in Friday’s 7-6 loss to the Angels. That came after going a combined 3-for-24 in their three-game sweep against the Rays.
The Mariners entered Saturday with a .217/.308/.382 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with runners in scoring position. That ranked 12th, 13th and seventh among AL clubs.
Double-A Jackson outfielder Guillermo Heredia, a former Cuban defector who signed in March, returned Saturday to the lineup for the first time since May 5.
Heredia suffered a bruised left hand when hit by a pitch in the second game of an April 30 double-header against Mobile (Diamondbacks). He initially tried to play through the pain but went 2-for-11 in three games and had trouble gripping the bat.
The injury isn’t believed serious, which is why he wasn’t placed on the seven-day disabled list. Heredia, 25, is batting .279 with a .337 on-base percentage in 24 games. He has one homer and 17 RBIs.
It was 20 years ago Sunday — May 15, 1996 — that the Mariners rebounded from a no-hitter by Dwight Gooden by banging out 19 hits in a 10-5 victory over the Yankees in New York.
Eleven players had at least one hit, and eight players had two or more. Alex Rodriguez had three hits, Edgar Martinez drove in four runs and Jay Buhner ignited a five-run fourth inning with a leadoff homer.
The Mariners and Angels conclude their three-game weekend series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Felix Hernandez (3-2 with a 2.27 ERA) will face Los Angeles lefty Hector Santiago (2-2, 4.07).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The Mariners have an open date Monday before embarking on a six-game road trip that consists of three games in Baltimore and three games in Cincinnati. It will be their third-ever trip to Cincinnati; they were 3-0 in 2002 an 2-1 in 2013.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners