Robinson Cano’s first day non-starting day of the 2015 season was not planned and did not happen by choice.
Instead, the Seattle Mariners’ second baseman developed overnight what manager Lloyd McClendon termed “flu-like symptoms,” and for the first time this year was not included in the team’s starting lineup.
Cano went 4 for 12 with two RBIs in Seattle’s recently completed three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays — a series that capped a nine-game trip through three cities — but he became ill the night before the Mariners’ game Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.
McClendon said the illness left Cano dehydrated, a condition for which the six-time All-Star required intravenous fluids.
“I’m not sure how much fluid he’s getting back in him,” McClendon said, “but he’s dehydrated, and he’s lost a few pounds.”
In his place, McClendon slotted super utilityman Brad Miller, who started at second base for the second time this season. He also played second base Sunday in Toronto, with Cano spending that day as the designated hitter. Cano pinch hit in the ninth and flied out.
How rare is the occasion of Cano to start the game on the bench? He hasn’t missed a game since July 20 of last season, when he simply needed a day to rest his sore hamstrings, and the other four games he missed in 2014 were the result of a bruised left hand.
Before that? As a New York Yankee, Cano missed only 14 games from the beginning of the 2007 season through the end of 2013, and never more than three in a season. He played 161 of his team’s 162 games twice (2009 and 2012), and totaled 160 three times (2007, 2010 and 2013).
He’s off to a slow start this season, batting just .253 with only one home run and 13 RBIs through Seattle’s first 46 games.
ROSTER MOVE NOT IMMINENT
The Mariners know their six-man bullpen won’t be sustainable for much longer, but McClendon said a roster move to add a seventh relief pitcher likely isn’t coming in the next day or two.
“We’ll see what happens in the next few days,” McClendon said prior to Thursday’s game.
It doesn’t hurt that ace right-hander Felix Hernandez gave the bullpen a day off Wednesday by throwing a complete game in a 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay. And McClendon insisted that the six-man bullpen — created by the Tuesday activation of center fielder Austin Jackson from the disabled list and the corresponding demotion of reliever Danny Farquhar to Triple-A Tacoma — hasn’t left the Mariners “short-handed,” even if he acknowledges he’d prefer to have another arm available.
“I keep trying to get that across — we’re going with six men in the bullpen, but we’re not short-handed,” McClendon said. “That’s not what we usually go with, but teams have done this in the past. There might be a few teams in the big leagues now that have it.
“Is it ideal? No. But we’re not short-handed. The guys down there are still capable of getting the job done. The key is starting pitching. If we pitch well and go deep into ballgames, we won’t have any problems.”
IWAKUMA ‘FEELS REAL GOOD’
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who was placed on the disabled list April 24 with a strained back muscle and later suffered a setback that required a two-week shutdown, played catch again Thursday and is apparently making progress toward being able to throw off a mound.
“He feels real good,” McClendon said, “and we’ll continue to progress with his rehab and see how that goes.”
McClendon did say he’d be “surprised” if Iwakuma were able to throw a bullpen session from the mound any time in the next seven or eight days. But the persistent back tightness that delayed Iwakuma’s rehabilitation has apparently subsided.
“The discomfort and inflammation has dissipated,” McClendon said, “to the point where he can get out and continue his rehab.”
Iwakuma posted an 0-1 record with a 6.61 ERA in three starts before being placed on the DL.
The circumstances of Nelson Cruz’s three-run homer in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay turned out to be fairly unique: it was only the second time a Mariner had ever homered to break a scoreless tie with two outs in the ninth inning or later, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Logan Morrison was the first to do it (Sept. 18, 2014). … Hernandez wasn’t the only member of his family who pitched well Wednesday. His older brother, Moises, pitched three scoreless innings for Double-A Jackson to earn a victory and improve his season record to 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 14 appearances. Moises Hernandez, a 31-year-old right-hander, is in his fifth season with Jackson since signing with the Mariners prior to the 2011 season.
The Mariners continue their four-game series against the Indians with a 7:10 p.m. game Friday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (1-5, 7.33 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-1, 3.02). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM.
Christian Caple: 253-597-8437