SEATTLE -- A trio of Mariners who returned from the All-Star break on the disabled list are on track for activation.Catcher Mike Zunino was to begin a rehab stint at Triple-A Tacoma Friday night, where manager Scott Servais said he will catch for five or six innings and take three
SEATTLE -- A trio of Mariners who returned from the All-Star break on the disabled list are on track for activation.
Catcher Mike Zunino was to begin a rehab stint at Triple-A Tacoma Friday night, where manager Scott Servais said he will catch for five or six innings and take three or four at-bats before playing designated hitter Saturday. Servais also said starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and James Paxton are set to return from back injuries and start Saturday and Tuesday, respectively.
Zunino's timetable was less exact, with Servais saying he could return either during or before Seattle's upcoming two-game set against San Francisco. Although Zunino feels fine physically, Servais would like him to face more live pitching to work on his timing before a big league return.
"Mike can do a lot of things for us offensively. We saw last year, when he gets going really good, it really changes the look of the bottom of our lineup," Servais said. "We want to give him every chance to come back and be productive right out of the chute."
Some time in Tacoma helped turn Zunino's season around in 2017. The catcher slashed .167/.250/.236 before being sent down last May and .270/.349/.571 after coming back up. This season, he's put up a .189/.251/.403 line.
Servais has stacked his roster with position players, while Hernandez and Paxton have been sidelined. The Mariners recalled first baseman Daniel Vogelbach and outfielder John Andreoli from Triple-A Tacoma and outrighted right-handed reliever Mike Morin to Tacoma prior to Friday's series opener with the White Sox at Safeco Field.
"Everybody within our organization -- Triple-A, even the Double-A level, now we've dipped into there a little bit -- need to be ready to help us," Servais said. "You are on the depth chart, so to speak, when you're at those levels, and you never know when you're gonna get the call."
The club already had optioned rookie right-hander Matt Festa to Double-A Arkansas on Sunday prior to the All-Star break to open up one spot on the 25-man roster, so Morin's departure puts Seattle back at an eight-man bullpen after carrying two extra relievers last weekend.
Either Vogelbach or Andreoli is likely to be sent down when Hernandez returns to the active roster Saturday. Both have had prior appearances with Seattle this season and provide bench depth.
Vogelbach has batted .210/.347/.339 with two home runs and six RBIs in 62 at-bats over three prior stints with the Mariners this season, and he was on the club's Opening Day roster after a strong spring. He's hit .305 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs in 63 games with Tacoma.
Andreoli has been with Seattle twice previously this season, going 1-for-5 with a walk in two games. He batted .285 with a .387 on-base percentage, three homers and 28 RBIs in 67 games for Tacoma.
Morin pitched once in Colorado on July 13 after being recalled from Tacoma, allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts over two innings. In three outings this season, he's posted a 6.75 ERA in four innings.
David Gottlieb covers the Mariners for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DGottliebMLB.