OAKLAND, Calif. — 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 the 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 Friday 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 leads the majors with 39 homers and ranks ninth in the American League with a .310 average. He is second among AL players with a .587 slugging percentage and sixth with a .380 on-base percentage.
Veteran reliever Joe Beimel rejoined the active roster prior to Friday’s game 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 Tacoma 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 through his first 37 appearances before allowing 12 runs over just 1 2/3 innings in a five-game span.
That boosted his ERA to 4.22.
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 in 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 recover from a strained tendon in his middle finger, which surfaced in a May 28 start against Cleveland at Safeco Field.
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.
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 in the month.
Blash, 26, also led PCL 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 to the best-of-three North Division finals. The second and, if necessary, third game will be Tuesday and Wednesday at Tri-City.
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.
Oakland recalled left-hander Sean Nolin from Triple-A Nashville. He was one of four players acquired last 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 entered the weekend with a streak of 11 games with at least on homer…The Mariners entered Friday with a 9-4 series record against the Athletics and needing just one victory in six remaining games to win the season series for a third straight year…Franklin Gutierrez has 20 hits in his last 50 at-bats (.400) against left-handed pitchers.
The Mariners and Athletics continue their three-game series at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at the O.Co Coliseum.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (15-8, 3.66) returns to the rotation and will face Oakland right-hander Jesse Chavez (7-13, 3.93). The Mariners skipped Hernandez on their rotation’s last cycle to freshen him for the stretch run.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.