SEATTLE — Soggy conditions at Cheney Stadium prompted the Mariners to scratch plans Thursday for center fielder Leonys Martin to test his recovery from a strained left hamstring by playing in a rehab game for Triple-A Tacoma.
Revised plans call for Martin to return for a workout at Safeco Field and a subsequent medical examination. If all goes well, he is still likely to be activated prior to Friday’s game against first-place Texas.
"Disappointing," manager Scott Servais said. "I’d like to get him the at-bats (in a rehab game), but I don’t want to run him out on a soggy field. I’m not hesitant (about activating Martin without a rehab test).
"He’s not a rookie. The only thing I’m a little cautious about is that he go out there and the leadoff hitter hits a ball into left-center field, and he’s hauling tail after it and does something crazy.
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"I want him to hold the reins back a little bit until he gets his legs back under him."
Martin, 28, suffered the injury May 25 while stealing second base against Oakland. He was batting .262 at the time of his injury with nine homers and 20 RBIs in 44 games.
PENDING ROSTER MOVE
The Mariners are leaning toward keeping Shawn O’Malley as their utility infielder over Luis Sardinas if, as expected, they need to clear roster space Friday to accommodate Martin’s return from the disabled list.
Club officials say O’Malley provides the roster with a true utilityman capable of playing the outfield in addition to being able to man all four infield positions.
While Sardinas played some outfield in spring training, and played one game earlier this season in left field, he is viewed primarily as an infielder.
O’Malley was batting .179 (7-for-39) through Wednesday but delivered key hits in recent games. He had the go-ahead single June 2 when the Mariners erased a 10-run deficit at San Diego, and a two-run triple Tuesday against Cleveland.
Sardinas is batting .200 (12-for-60) prior to Thursday’s game.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez was scheduled to undergo a follow-up examination Thursday to determine his progress in recovering from a strained right calf muscle.
"He’s feeling a little bit better," Servais said, "but it’s not moving at the pace he was hoping it would. He’s keeping his arm active, which is good. He’s throwing the cage. Keeping it loose. But, again, it’s not the same."
Hernandez hasn’t pitched since a May 27 loss to Minnesota. He is eligible to return Sunday from the disabled list but isn’t expected back, at the earliest, until the end of the month.
Servais confirmed plans to shuffle his rotation next week by separating left-handers James Paxton and Wade Miley after Monday’s open date in the schedule.
Paxton will jump ahead of Hisashi Iwakuma in the next cycle and start June 16 at Tampa Bay. Because of the open date, Paxton will remain on his regular work schedule.
Iwakuma will start June 17 in the series opener at Boston, which means he will get two extra days of rest following his scheduled start Friday against Texas. Miley will followed Iwakuma in the rotation in Boston.
Battery mates Taijuan Walker and Chris Iannetta achieved a rare feat Wednesday when Walker pitched eight scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, while Iannetta hit two homers and drove in four runs.
It was only the fourth time since 1913 that a pitcher had 10 or more strikeouts while working at least eight scoreless innings, and the catcher hit at least two homers and had at least four RBIs.
The last time it happened was also at Safeco Field. On Sept. 13, 2006, Toronto starter A.J. Burnett struck out 11 while pitching a complete-game in a 10-0 victory over the Mariners. Catcher Gregg Zaun hit two homers and drove in five runs.
The other occasions:
***Sept. 15, 1968 in Detroit’s 13-0 victory at Oakland. Mickey Lolich had 12 strikeouts while pitching a complete game, and Bill Freehan had two homers and four RBIs.
***April 11, 1963 in Washington’s 8-0 victory over Boston. Tom Cheney struck out 10 in a one-hit complete game, and Don Leppert hit three homers and drove in five runs.
Double-A outfielder Tyler O’Neill reached new heights in his breakout season Wednesday when he had eight RBIs, including a walk-off grand slam with two outs, in an 8-4 victory over Pensacola (Reds).
O’Neill, 20, boosted his average to .332 after finishing the game with three hits in four at-bats. He has 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 57 games. He leads the Southern League in RBIs and ranks second in average and homers.
The victory also reduced the Generals’ magic number to one for clinching the first-half pennant in the North Division of the Southern League.
The Mariners selected O’Neill in the third round of the 2013 draft,
It was 24 years ago Friday — June 10, 1992 — that Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mariners from Jeff Smulyan for $100 million to the Baseball Club of Seattle, L.P.
The other club owners approved the sale on the condition that Puget Power chief executive officer John Ellis run the franchise even though Hiroshi Yamauchi, the owner of Japan-based Nintendo, put up a majority share.
The Mariners are currently undergoing an transition that seeks to reduce Nintendo’s share with the ownership group and make John Stanton the franchise’s new chairman and chief executive officer.
The current transition is scheduled for consideration by other club owners in August.
When Chris Iannetta hit two homers in Wednesday’s victory, he became the sixth different Mariner this season to have a multi-homer game. The others are Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Dae-Ho Lee, Adam Lind and Seth Smith. The only club with more than six multi-homer players is Toronto, which has seven…the Mariners, through Wednesday, had 123 two-out RBIs, which matched Boston for the most in the majors…the Mariners, through Wednesday, also lead the majors with 34 two-out homers.
The Mariners open a three-game rematch against first-place Texas at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field. The Rangers swept a three-game series when the two clubs played last weekend in Arlington, Texas.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (4-5 with a 4.13 ERA) will face Texas lefty Derek Holland (5-4, 4.53). It is a rematch of last Sunday’s series finale when Texas benefited from two unearned runs in a Rangers’ 3-1 victory.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners