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Seager set to make 2019 debut Saturday 

Mariners welcome back third baseman, sidelined since March 8
@gregjohnsmlb
May 22, 2019

ARLINGTON -- A Mariners roster that has undergone considerable turnover in the past week will see more change this weekend as third baseman Kyle Seager is ready to come off the 60-day injured list Saturday in Oakland. Seager has been sidelined since surgery to repair a tendon he tore in

ARLINGTON -- A Mariners roster that has undergone considerable turnover in the past week will see more change this weekend as third baseman Kyle Seager is ready to come off the 60-day injured list Saturday in Oakland.

Seager has been sidelined since surgery to repair a tendon he tore in his left hand while diving for a ball down the line in a Cactus League game against the Cubs on March 8. His 60-day IL stint ends Saturday, and all signs point to his return that day, as he’s hit .281 (9-for-32) with two doubles and seven RBIs in seven rehab games with Triple-A Tacoma.

“The reports are pretty good,” manager Scott Servais said prior to Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers. “I’ve actually texted with Kyle a couple times. He feels good physically. There are no issues with his hand or anything like that. You know Kyle, he’s still working out the kinks in his swing a little bit, which is OK. That’s who he is.

“He’s pretty upbeat and anxious to get back and start playing real games and getting on with his season. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”

Seager struggled through his worst season in the Majors last year, batting a career-low .221 with 36 doubles, 22 home runs and 78 RBIs in 155 games, then underwent a rigorous offseason program to lose weight and add flexibility. Both Seager and the Mariners are eager to see how that plays out once he’s healthy.

“He looked great in Spring Training before he went down,” Servais said. “I really like the way the ball was coming off his bat. His posture was different at the plate and he was moving differently, as far as his flexibility and things like that. So I’m really curious to see how it plays here at this level every day. I know he’s really looking forward to it.”

Seager’s return will be timely, as Ryon Healy, who has filled in for him at third base, went on the 10-day injured list Tuesday with inflammation in his lower back. Seattle simultaneously placed second baseman Dee Gordon on the 10-day IL with a bruised right wrist.

The Mariners have already used 43 players this season, the most in the Majors, so Seager’s return will only add to that number. But in his case, it’ll be the return of a longtime Mariner, as the 31-year-old will become one of just seven players on the 25-man roster to have been with the team a year ago.

Worth noting

Yusei Kikuchi will throw a normal start in his next turn Saturday in Oakland, with Servais saying the rookie from Japan will likely make his next “abbreviated” one-inning outing sometime in his next three or four starts as the club sticks with its plan to limit the 27-year-old’s workload in his first season in the Majors.

Sam Tuivailala (right Achilles tendon surgery) and Gerson Bautista (right pec strain) both threw a scoreless inning in rehab outings for Tacoma on Tuesday, and they are both getting closer to being ready to come off the injured list.

“The velocity was there for Bautista, and Tui’s is continuing to grow,” Servais said. “We really want those guys to be in top, top form before we bring them in here. I think they’re getting close. They’ve gone back to back now. It’d probably be good to have that four- or five-out appearance; that’s valuable because our bullpen is structured a little differently now. That’s something I hope they’ve done before they get here.”

Felix Hernandez, who remained in Seattle to rehab from a strained right lat muscle, is expected to start lightly playing catch toward the end of this week as he starts up his throwing program. He’s not expected to return until late June at the earliest, however.

• Relievers Mike Wright and Nick Rumbelow, who were designated for assignment last weekend, both cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.