Even as the Mariners look to rebound Wednesday from Tuesday’s drubbing by the Minnesota Twins, club officials will be closely tracking the first few innings at Hi-A Modesto.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to pitch three innings for the Nuts against San Jose (Giants) in his first game action since being diagnosed with shoulder inflammation following a May 3 start against the Los Angeles Angels.
Plans call for Iwakuma to throw roughly 45 pitches over three innings.
A normal progression, if all goes well, would slot Iwakuma to throw roughly 65-70 pitches over five innings on June 19 — probably at Triple-A Tacoma, which will be playing Salt Lake (Angels) on that night at Cheney Stadium.
Felix Hernandez is making his third rehab start for the Rainiers on Saturday in his recovery from bursitis in his shoulder, which forced his exit from an April 25 game in Detroit.
Barring setbacks, Hernandez and Iwakuma could each return to active duty at some point on the nine-game homestand that runs from June 19-28.
As for Wednesday’s game against Twins, it’s got to be better than Tuesday (doesn’t it?) when the Mariners surrendered a club-record 28 hits in a 20-7 shellacking.
Rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio looks to continue a run of solid outings since entering an injury-depleted rotation in mid-May. He is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA and has yielded more than one earned run just one once in five starts.
"The thing that’s stood out for me," manager Scott Servais said, "is his ability to not get too amped up. Too `Oh, my gosh, the wheels are falling off.’ You see with some pitchers, they literally do fall off.
"He does have a way of calming it down and continuing to make pitches. His maturity, as much as anything, sticks out to me. That’s what you get from a guy who has pitched a lot of minor-league baseball."
Gaviglio’s future in the rotation is uncertain. With Hernandez and Iwakuma seemingly poised to return, Gaviglio could find himself back in the minors or, possibly, in the bullpen as a long reliever.
***The game starts at 5:10 p.m. Pacific time and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest. (The game in Modesto starts at 7:05 p.m.)
***The Twins are starting right-hander Ervin Santana, whom the Mariners missed during last week’s three-game series at Safeco Field. Santana is 8-3 with a 2.20 ERA and is only permitting 4.7 hits per nine innings.
***Santana once saw the Mariners on a regular basis while pitching for the Angels from 2005-12. He is 12-8 with a 4.12 ERA against them in 31 career starts.
***Robinson Cano is 14-for-45 (.311) with six homers and 12 RBIs in his career against Santana, while Nelson Cruz is 13-for-43 (.302) with three homers. The rest of the Mariners have struggled against Santana.
***Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario hit three home runs Tuesday in the Twins’ romp. He is the first player to hit three homers while batting ninth in the lineup since Boston’s Trot Nixon July 24, 1999.
***Shortstop Jean Segura is expected to test his recovery from a high ankle sprain by taking part Wednesday in all aspects of batting practice. The Mariners remain hopeful he can be activated at some point this weekend in Texas.
***Cruz continues to lead the American League in RBIs with 52. New York right fielder Aaron Judge is second with 49. Minnesota third baseman Miguel Sano is fourth with 46.
It was four years ago Wednesday — June 14, 2013 — that Mike Zunino hit his first big-league homer. It came in the seventh inning against Tommy Milone at Oakland and helped lift the Mariners to a 3-2 victory.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners