Third baseman Kyle Seager shucked the protective boot Friday from his bruised right foot and hopes to return Saturday to the Mariners’ starting lineup.
"It’s definitely getting better," he said. "It feels a lot better today than it did (Thursday), and (Thursday) felt a lot better than it did the day before. It’s definitely going in the right direction.
"Mr. Rick (Griffin, the club’s head trainer) has been going non-stop on me. I was hoping for today. The plan is for (Saturday). That’s what I’m thinking."
Seager suffered the injury Tuesday when he fouled a ball off the top of his foot. Utilityman Shawn O’Malley started the last three games at third base.
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Manager Scott Servais said Seager could be available Friday as a pinch-hitter and confirmed plans for him to return Saturday to the lineup at third base.
The plan is tentative.
Seager still hasn’t tested his foot by running or making the type of quick-cut movements required to play. He expected to limit his batting practice Friday to swings in the indoor cages.
"I’ll throw one of those little shinguards on there," he said. "Something that can cover the foot a little bit. And I’ll try not to take any bad swings and foul it off my foot. That would be the first goal."
The injury dropped Seager into second place behind teammate Robinson Cano in terms of durability over the last five seasons.
Entering Friday, Cano led all MLB players with 760 games played and 757 games started since the start of the 2012 season. Seager ranked second in both categories at 759 and 752.
The rest of the top five in total games: Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (754), Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar (750) and San Diego shortstop Alexei Ramirez (749).
The rest of the top five in games started: Escobar (748), Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus (740) and Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones (736).
With Seager apparently deemed healthy, the Mariners moved quickly after Friday’s victory to bolster their thin bullpen.
Club officials confirmed plans to recall switch-pitcher Pat Venditte from Triple-A Tacoma and promoting Double-A Jackson closer Dan Altavilla, who must also be added to the 40-man roster.
To clear space, the Mariners will option outfielder Nori Aoki and infielder Mike Freeman to Tacoma. The club recalled Freeman prior to Thursday’s series opener in Chicago to bridge the gap caused by Seager’s injury.
"We do need the extra arm," Seager said. "There’s no doubt. You can’t carry what we’re carrying right now for too many days."
With Altavilla, the Mariners are hoping for the same magic they found in promoting closer Edwin Diaz directly from Jackson on June 4. Like Diaz, Altavilla is a former starter who blossomed this season after shifting to the bullpen.
Altavilla has a 1.91 ERA in 43 games and keeps getting better: a 1.04 ERA over his last 34 appearances with 53 strikeouts in 43 1/3 innings He was a fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
The Mariners acquired Venditte, 31, in an Aug. 6 waiver claim from Toronto. He has a 1.08 ERA in five appearances at Tacoma. He is also 2-2 with a 4.58 ERA in 34 big-league games over the last two seasons with Oakland and Toronto.
First baseman Dae-Ho Lee could also be returning the big leagues after showing signs of getting his swing back together at Triple-A Tacoma following his Aug. 19 demotion.
The catch is Lee can’t be recalled until Monday unless he replaces a player placed on the disabled list — but the Mariners have just such a candidates in reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who is nursing a sore back.
Bottom line: Lee could also return prior to Saturday’s game,
Lee entered Friday’s game at Reno (Diamondbacks) with 12 hits in 24 at-bats over six games with the Rainiers. He had multiple hits in five games along with three doubles and two homers for a 1.413 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage.)
"He’s got his smile back," Servais said, "and that’s the biggest thing. I think we saw his confidence get shook a little bit.
"He hadn’t struggled like that here. I said to hime before he left, `You can hit in this league. You’ve proven you can hit in this league. You’ve got to get that swag back, the confidence back.’"
Prior to his demotion, Lee was in a 4-for-51 slump with 18 strikeouts over 19 games.
"Sometimes you go down there and get a few hits," Servais said, "and it comes back real quick. We need him. We need him to come back and help us here in September."
The Mariners have two prospects scheduled to play next month for Brazil in a four-country qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.
***Second baseman Tim Lopes, 22, was a sixth-round pick in 2012. He is currently batting .289 with a .361 on-base percentage in 121 games at Double-A Jackson.
***Right-hander reliever Thyago Vieira, 23, is 2010 international signing who is currently 1-0 with six saves and a 2.92 ERA at Hi-A Bakersfield.
Brazil will be managed by Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin and have Steve Finley as its hitting coach and LaTroy Hawkins as its pitching coach.
Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan are also competing in the tournament, which runs Sept. 22-25. The winner will gain the final spot in next year’s 16-country WBC.
It was four years ago Saturday — Aug. 26, 2012 — that Felix Hernandez got his fourth 1-0 victory of the season when the Mariners beat the Twins in Minnesota. Eric Thames’ leadoff homer in the eighth inning provided the game’s only run.
Hernandez became just the third pitcher MLB’s divisional era (since 1969) ton record four 1-0 victories in the same season. Ferguson Jenkins did it in 1974 for Texas, and Bert Blyleven did in 1976 while splitting time at Minnesota and Texas.
Jenkins and Blyleven are in the Hall of Fame. Jenkins was inducted in 1991, and Blyleven in 2011.
The White Sox traded catcher Dioner Navarro back to Toronto prior to Friday’s game. Chicago received left-handed pitcher Colton Turner from the Blue Jays. Navarro played for Toronto in 2014-15 before signing with the White Sox as a free agent…entering Friday, all but one of the last 16 games between the Mariners and White Sox in Chicago had been decided by one or two runs. The Mariners were 5-10 in those games, including 3-7 in one-run games…Thursday’s 7-6 walk-off loss dropped the Mariners to 23-24 in one-run games. Through Thursday, they led the majors in one-run games.
The Mariners and White Sox continue their four-game series at 4:10 p.m. Pacific time Saturday with a match-up of left-handers at U.S. Cellular Field.
Rookie Ariel Miranda (1-0 with a 5.49 ERA) will face Chicago All-Star Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on the Mariners Radio Network, which includes 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners