SEATTLE -- The promotion of Ariel Miranda to start Tuesday night's game against the Astros kick-started what figures to be a series of roster moves over the coming days, with Mariners manager Scott Servais indicating left fielder Ben Gamel will likely rejoin the team in the next day or two
SEATTLE -- The promotion of Ariel Miranda to start Tuesday night's game against the Astros kick-started what figures to be a series of roster moves over the coming days, with Mariners manager Scott Servais indicating left fielder Ben Gamel will likely rejoin the team in the next day or two as well.
Catcher Mike Zunino appears poised to return from a Minor League rehab assignment by the start of the upcoming road trip on Friday, while first baseman Ryon Healy is recovering well from a sprained ankle and could head out soon for a few rehab games of his own.
Utility infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a spot for Miranda on the 25-man roster.
Miranda is filling the fifth-starter spot in the rotation that hasn't been needed until now due to off-days in the early schedule. But with Erasmo Ramirez on schedule to rejoin the rotation by the time that spot is needed again Sunday in Texas, it's likely Miranda will be optioned back to Tacoma following his start.
That would create at least a temporary roster opening for Gamel's return. Another move would be needed Sunday to bring up Ramirez -- who is recovering from a strained right lat muscle -- but the Mariners could send down a reliever from their eight-man bullpen at that point or make a decision on Ichiro Suzuki, who becomes a fifth outfielder once Gamel is back.
What is certain is that Gamel will be back soon if all goes well in Tuesday night's game for Tacoma, which will be his 10th rehab outing and fifth with the Rainiers as he works back from a strained right oblique.
"He's going to be back here very soon," Servais said.
Motter was the odd man out on Tuesday. The versatile utility man hit .267 (4-for-15) with a home run and one RBI in seven games since being recalled from Tacoma on April 3. He also pitched an inning of relief at Kansas City on April 9.
But with veteran Andrew Romine also capable of playing every position and being out of Minor League options, Motter will head to Tacoma.
"I thought Taylor did a nice job, certainly the last couple days," Servais said. "He swung the bat much better and did a decent job at first base. He understands where he's at right now organizationally. He's going to head down and play in Tacoma and get after it. He knows he'll probably be back at some point to help us. He's just so versatile. He adds a lot."
Zunino, who strained his oblique while taking batting practice the afternoon before Opening Day, caught five innings for Modesto on Monday and went 1-for-3 with a double. He's slated to get a full game at designated hitter on Tuesday and catch Wednesday's game before likely returning to Seattle.
Hisashi Iwakuma, also on the mend, threw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon and the 36-year-old right-hander will face live hitters in a simulated game in Tacoma on Friday.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.