Seattle Mariners

Mariners notebook: Nelson Cruz improving, Joe Beimel returns, James Paxton out 3-4 days

Astros catcher Hank Conger tags Seattle’s Nelson Cruz out at home plate in the seventh inning on Wednesday. Cruz strained his quadriceps that inning while running the bases and will likely not play versus Oakland this weekend.
Astros catcher Hank Conger tags Seattle’s Nelson Cruz out at home plate in the seventh inning on Wednesday. Cruz strained his quadriceps that inning while running the bases and will likely not play versus Oakland this weekend. The Associated Press

Asked prior to Friday’s game about Nelson Cruz’s recovery from a strained right quadriceps muscle, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said: “Better. Not available.”

While Cruz will be evaluated each day, the Mariners appear likely to play without him for their entire weekend series against Oakland at O.co Coliseum.

Even Cruz conceded he expects it to be “a few days” before he’s ready to return.

Cruz suffered the injury Wednesday while running the bases in the seventh inning of an 8-3 victory at Houston.

The Mariners compensated for his absence by putting Seth Smith in right field and shifting Franklin Gutierrez to Cruz’s usual No. 3 spot in the lineup.

Cruz is second in the major leagues with 39 homers and is ranked ninth in the American League with a .310 average. He also leads the AL with a .587 slugging percentage and sixth with a .380 on-base percentage.

BEIMEL RETURNS

Veteran reliever Joe Beimel rejoined the active roster after making three rehab appearances at Triple-A Tacoma to test his recovery from shoulder inflammation.

“My first two games were mediocre,” he said. “My timing was a little bit off. I looked at some video with Jaime (Navarro, the Rainiers pitching coach) and figured out what I was doing.

“I fixed it (Thursday) and got back to being good again.”

Beimel, 38, spent the minimum 15 days on the disabled list. He had a 2.50 ERA this season through his first 37 appearances before allowing 12 runs over just 12/3 innings during a five-game span prior to going on the disabled list.

That boosted his ERA to 4.22.

PAXTON’S PROGRESS

James Paxton’s latest injury is forcing the Mariners to reassess their rotation for next week’s homestand.

Club officials had expected Paxton to rejoin the rotation early next week against Texas — until he suffered a blister and a torn fingernail on his pitching hand during a rehab start Wednesday for Tacoma at Salt Lake.

“He’s back in Seattle getting treatment,” McClendon said. “He’s going to be down for at least three or four days.”

Paxton was on a rehab assignment to gauge his recovery from a strained tendon in his middle finger, which surfaced during a May 28 start against Cleveland at Safeco Field.

MINOR SUSPENSION

Short-A Everett left-hander Joe Pistorese received a 50-game suspension from the commissioner’s office after testing positive for amphetamines in violation of the minor league drug program.

Pistorese, 22, was the Mariners’ 17th-round pick in the June draft from Washington State University.

He was 6-0 with a 1.28 ERA in 16 relief appearances for the AquaSox and was picked as the Northwest League pitcher of the week for Aug. 17-23.

MINOR AWARDS I

Triple-A Tacoma outfielder Jabari Blash was picked as the Pacific Coast League player of the month for August after hitting 14 homers during the month.

Blash, 26, also led the league with 75 total bases, 18 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs. He has a career-high 32 homers this season, including 22 at Tacoma since his May 1 promotion from Double-A Jackson.

The Mariners selected Blash in the eighth round of the 2010 draft.

MINOR AWARDS II

Everett shortstop Drew Jackson was picked as the Northwest League player of the month for August after batting .417 with a .505 on-base percentage and stealing 20 bases in 22 attempts.

Jackson, 20, was the Mariners’ fifth-round pick in the June draft and leads the Northwest League with a .367 average in 57 games through Thursday.

Everett opens the Northwest League playoffs Monday by hosting Tri-City (Padres) in the opener of the best-of-three North Division finals. The second and, if necessary, third games will be Tuesday and Wednesday at Tri-City.

LOOKING BACK

It was 32 years ago Saturday — Sept. 5, 1983 — that second baseman Harold Reynolds made his major league debut by going 2 for 5 with a double and a triple in a 13-6 victory at Kansas City.

Reynolds’ first career hit was a double in the fourth inning against Larry Gura.

SHORT HOPS

Oakland recalled left-hander Sean Nolin from Triple-A Nashville. He was one of four players acquired in November from Toronto for third baseman Josh Donaldson. Nolin, 25, was 2-2 with a 2.66 for the Sounds and is scheduled to start Sunday in the series finale. ... The Mariners are amid a streak of 12 games with at least one home run. ... The Mariners have a 10-4 series record against the Athletics to win the season series for a third consecutive year. ... Franklin Gutierrez has 20 hits in his past 50 at-bats (.400) against left-handed pitchers.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Athletics continue their series at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at O.co Coliseum.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez (15-8, 3.66 ERA) returns and will face Oakland right-hander Jesse Chavez (7-13, 3.93).

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

SATURDAY: Seattle (RHP Felix Hernandez: 15-8, 3.66 ERA) at Oakland (RHP Jesse Chavez: 7-13, 3.93), 6:10 p.m., Root Sports, 1030-AM, 710-AM

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