CLEVELAND -- For Ryon Healy, Thursday's return to the Mariners provided a fresh start to a season that got off to a rough beginning before he injured his right ankle in a training room incident.It wasn't lost on the 26-year-old first baseman that he was facing the same Indians club
CLEVELAND -- For Ryon Healy, Thursday's return to the Mariners provided a fresh start to a season that got off to a rough beginning before he injured his right ankle in a training room incident.
It wasn't lost on the 26-year-old first baseman that he was facing the same Indians club that Seattle opened the year against in Safeco Field four weeks ago. After struggling at the plate before his injury, Healy is pushing the reset button and starting anew.
"I'm just so eager to get back and get a fresh start for the season," Healy said. "The seven-game start that I had obviously wasn't ideal. I wasn't excited about it. The fans weren't excited about it. The team wasn't excited about it. But I'm excited to come back and turn it around, because I know I'm not that player. I'm excited to prove some people wrong."
Healy jokingly pondered doing a one-man Opening Night ceremony by going out to the baseline during the national anthem prior to Thursday's game and waving his cap to an imaginary introduction. But mostly he was just glad to be back in a Mariners lineup that finally has returned to full strength.
Healy is one of five Mariners to come off the DL in the last 13 days, along with designated hitter Nelson Cruz, catcher Mike Zunino, left fielder Ben Gamel and starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez.
"We do have depth to our lineup," manager Scott Servais said. "That's what we envisioned when we put this team together. You've got Zunino, Gamel, Healy hitting at the bottom, very formidable vs. what other teams are going to throw out there. But they have to do it. They have to produce, they need to have good at-bats, hit situationally and with runners in scoring position."
Healy played four Minor League rehab games with Double-A Arkansas, batting .333 (5-for-15) with one home run and six RBIs. After being acquired from the A's by trade in November, he got off to a slow start, batting .091 (2-for-22), but hit a three-run double in his final at-bat against the Twins on April 7 before injuring his ankle in a postgame workout.
Rookie Daniel Vogelbach was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a spot for Healy. Vogelbach had a strong spring to make the Opening Day roster, then hit .204 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in 54 at-bats while filling in for both Cruz and Healy during their injury stints.
Servais said Vogelbach improved tremendously on defense this spring and showed he belongs in the Mariners' future plans.
"It was his first extended look in the big leagues with a chance to play every day against righties and lefties, and I think he learned a lot," Servais said. "But sometimes more important is you earn the trust of the guys you're playing with.
"Everybody loves Vogey's personality. He's funny, he brings a lot of energy and keeps the dugout light and loose. But ultimately teammates are looking [at], 'Can this guy help us win?' And I think they saw signs of Vogey really being able to help us going forward."
Mariners supporting umpire charity auction
Autographed baseballs by Mariners standouts Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager are among the 300 items open for bids in the 10th UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction that is underway through Monday.
Also available is a game ball from the Mariners' Opening Day game this season, autographed by the full umpire crew that worked the game.
Autographed sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind VIP experiences and upgraded ticket packages are all up for bid at mlb.com/UmpsCare. The auction closes at 7 p.m. PT Monday.
Some of the items up for bid include signed bats, cleats, jerseys, photos and baseballs from some of the biggest stars in MLB. There are also opportunities to watch batting practice up close on the field at many ballparks, hotel stays with game tickets, opportunities to have lunch with an MLB umpire, suites and tickets from Minor League Baseball clubs, golf foursomes and more.
All proceeds support UMPS CARE Charities youth programs to provide Major League Baseball experiences for children awaiting adoption, Build-A-Bear Workshop® experiences for hospitalized children coping with serious illnesses, college scholarships for deserving young adults who were adopted as children and financial assistance for families in need.
"Each year, thanks to the support from our friends in Major League Baseball and throughout the sports world, we get some fantastic items for our auction, and this year is no exception," said Gary Darling, former MLB umpire and Board President for UMPS CARE Charities. "This is the biggest fundraising initiative that we have to help so many children in need, and we can't thank everyone enough for all of the support. Please tell all of your friends, bid early and bid often to help this great cause."
• Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will throw a live batting practice session Friday in Peoria, Ariz., as he continues working back from September right shoulder surgery.
• Servais said outfielder Guillermo Heredia didn't have any serious issues after being hit in the hand by a pitch in Wednesday's game for Triple-A Tacoma. Heredia was taken out of the game, but X-rays on his knuckle showed no broken bones.
• After a month of extended spring training, veteran outfielder Jayson Werth made his debut for Tacoma on Wednesday and went 0-for-3 with a walk. Werth signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners in late March.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.