ANAHEIM -- Christian Bergman will be on the mound Friday when the Mariners open a three-game set with the Rockies at Coors Field, but designated hitter Nelson Cruz will be on the bench and limited to pinch-hitting duties as Seattle deals with the first of three remaining Interleague road series
ANAHEIM -- Christian Bergman will be on the mound Friday when the Mariners open a three-game set with the Rockies at Coors Field, but designated hitter Nelson Cruz will be on the bench and limited to pinch-hitting duties as Seattle deals with the first of three remaining Interleague road series on its schedule.
Bergman was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his second spot start of the season, this time in place of Felix Hernandez after the veteran right-hander went on the 10-day disabled list this week to rest a stiff back.
Bergman threw seven shutout innings with two hits and no walks against Texas on May 16 and went 4-5 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 games, including eight starts, last season for Seattle. The 30-year-old right-hander is 6-6 with a 4.78 ERA in 18 starts for Tacoma.
"Bergy came up when we had to fill a spot after we had the doubleheader [on May 12 in Detroit] and did a really good job for us," manager Scott Servais said. "He's been throwing the ball well down there. He'll fit right in and hopefully give us a good outing."
Bergman pitched his first three seasons in the Majors for the Rockies and is 6-4 with a 6.69 ERA over 78 innings in 30 outings (seven starts) at Coors Field.
At the high elevation in Denver, Coors Field is one of the toughest parks for pitchers in baseball, and Cruz would love to take his hacks this weekend. In five career games at Coors, the slugger has hit .412 (7-for-17) with a double and two homers.
But Servais doesn't want to risk injury to the 38-year-old, who had calf issues crop up when playing the outfield in Interleague games last year. Cruz spent just 28 innings over five games in the field in 2017 and has been strictly used at DH this season.
Is there a temptation to put Cruz in the outfield as the Mariners head into that series against a team that took two of three from them last week in Seattle?
"Oh yeah, there's a lot," Servais said. "And it lasts for about 10 seconds and then you move on. It's hard. He's a big part of our offense and it'll be a challenge for us going into Coors Field without him in the middle of our lineup.
"But we're trying to win the war. Along the way you fight a lot of battles. It'll be an opportunity for other guys to step up. Certainly we'll get that kind of production out of our pitchers when they get in there," Servais added with a smile.
Cruz understands the situation as he's healthy now after dealing with a sprained ankle and sore wrist that slowed his early production this season.
"First, we have to be smart," said Cruz, who has rebounded so well that he'll play in his sixth All-Star Game next Tuesday. "I understand the process and that [Servais is] the one that made the call. I definitely want to play, but he has the last call. We'll see what happens. I'm going to prepare and be ready."
Gonzales on the mend
Marco Gonzales had his left calf on ice in the clubhouse Thursday afternoon after taking a line shot off his leg in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Angels, but said he's fine and would have been able to make his next start on schedule.
But that start now won't likely be for 10 days or more as the Mariners hit the All-Star break next Monday through Thursday and then have an off-day after a three-game series with the White Sox.
The Mariners will use that break to rest their heavily used rotation. Servais said neither Gonzales or James Paxton -- making his last first-half start on Thursday -- would be brought back "right out of the chute" after the break.
Those rotation plans are still being finalized, but Servais said Hernandez will make one of the initial starts against the White Sox out of the break since he's getting his time off now on the 10-day DL.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.