SEATTLE — Utility infielder Luis Sardinas, as expected, rejoined the Mariners prior to Wednesday’s series finale against Oakland when recalled to the big leagues after a 10-day remedial stay at Triple-A Tacoma.
"I got more at-bats," said Sardinas, who batted .406 (13-for-22) in eight games for the Rainiers. "I got to play every day, and I got more comfortable at the plate. I got used to the speed of the game again."
Sardinas, 23, is expected to replace injured Ketel Marte as the club’s primary shortstop. Marte suffered a sprained left thumb while sliding into second base in last Saturday’s victory in Cincinnati.
Marte’s injury is not believed to be severe, and club officials expect him to be ready to resume his duties June 6, when he is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list.
"Full range of motion is back in the thumb," manager Scott Servais reported. "The swelling is out. We’re hoping that, maybe, by sometime this weekend to get a bat in his hand (and have him hit) off the tee."
The Mariners cleared space for Sardinas by optioning shortstop Chris Taylor back to Tacoma after just three games. Taylor went 1-for-3 in his only appearance — Monday against the Athletics — but committed two errors in the 5-0 loss.
"I hate to pull the plug on a guy for one game," Servais said, "but we’ve got to do what’s best for our team…Where we’re at right now, we’re in first place, we just thought it was best to go with Luis."
Sardinas opened the season as the Mariners’ utility infielder after beating out Taylor in spring training. Sardinas was optioned May 14 to Tacoma to receive regular playing time after getting just 26 at-bats in the club’s first 36 games.
The Mariners replaced Sardinas by recalling utilityman Shawn O’Malley from Tacoma. O’Malley started at shortstop in two of three previous games since Marte’s injury but is not viewed as a viable replacement for an extended period.
Players optioned to the minors can’t return for 10 days unless they replace a player on the disabled list. When the Mariners chose late Saturday to summon Taylor as a precaution, they did not know the severity of Marte’s injury.
At that point, they hadn’t yet determined whether Marte required time on the disabled list. They could have kept him on the active roster and added Taylor, a natural shortstop, by optioning another player, presumably O’Malley, to Tacoma.
INJURED RELIEVER UPDATES
Right-hander Tony Zych continues to work through a long-toss program in his recovery from tendinitis in his right rotator cuff, but lefty Charlie Furbush is battling the latest snag in his comeback.
Club officials had hoped Furbush would, by now, by working through a de facto spring training in Arizona, but he remains in Seattle after experiencing soreness in his recovery from tendinitis in his left shoulder biceps.
Plans for Furbush to report to Arizona are on hold — along with any timetable for his return to active duty. Previously, the Mariners believed he might be game-ready by late May or early June. He hasn’t pitched for 10 1/2 months.
"Charlie is down a little bit for a couple of days with a little soreness," Servais said. "With Charlie’s situation, he’s gets going and then he has a little setback. It’s going to take a little while for him."
Zych is still in the early stages of his throwing program. He threw from 90-100 feet Wednesday, which followed a rest day Tuesday after two throwing days. Plans call for him to throw again Thursday and Friday — and then be reevaluated.
"No pain," he said. "A couple of days, it’s been sore. That’s it. Mostly, it’s just battling through it. They haven’t set a date (to get on a mound). We’re working the three days and then going from there. Then do another three after that."
Zych compiled a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings over 10 appearances before forced to the disabled list after a one-inning outing on May 1 against Kansas City.
"It’s tough," he said. "I’ve never been though something like this. My whole mentality is go, go, go. So it’s really hard to just step back. I think the first couple of days I was going too hard because I was so excited.
"But stepping back and just focusing one day at a time is the best I can do. Everything is good. It’s definitely getting stronger. I’ve just got to work through the throwing. Hopefully, everything stays positive. It’s just been slow."
Right-hander Nick Neidert made his season debut Tuesday and got his first professional victory by limiting Wisconsin (Brewers) to one run in five innings in Lo-A Clinton’s 5-3 victory.
Neidert, 19, was the Mariners’ top pick in last year’s draft and was officially reassigned earlier in the day to the LumberKings from extended spring training. He gave up four hits while walking two and striking out three in an 87-pitch outing.
The Mariners shelled out $1.2 million last year to lure Neidert, the 60th overall pick, away from his commitment to South Carolina. He entered the season ranked No. 6 on the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.
Neidert compiled a 1.53 ERA last season in 11 starts in the Arizona Rookie League but finished with an 0-2 record primarily because he pitched more than four innings in only one game.
It was 21 years ago Thursday — May 26, 1995 — that Ken Griffey Jr., after hitting a homer in the fifth inning, made a spectacular catch on a seven-inning drive by Baltimore’s Kevin Bass at the Kingdome.
While Griffey held the ball after crashing into the wall, he suffered two broken bones in his left wrist. He underwent surgery the following day and didn’t return until Aug. 15.
The Mariners beat the Orioles 8-3 behind Randy Johnson, who improved to 5-0, and three relievers.
In the accompanying video, note Johnson’s reaction to Griffey’s catch and the youthful look of trainer Rick Griffin.
The Mariners have three walk-off victories and each came via a home run: Dae-Ho Lee on April 13 vs. Texas; Chris Iannetta on May 11 vs. Tampa Bay; and Leonys Martin on May 24 vs. Oakland…Martin’s homer was the Mariners’ first two-out blast for a come-from-behind walk-off victory since Ichiro Suzuki’s two-run shot on Sept. 18, 2009 against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera…the Mariners, prior to Wednesday, had won nine of its last 10 one-run games. They are 10-6 overall in one-run games.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before opening a three-game weekend series against Minnesota at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (4-3 with a 2.21 ERA) will face Twins lefty Pat Dean (0-1, 3.68) in the series opener. The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners