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Mariners hope Haniger returns for Yanks series

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

HOUSTON -- Mitch Haniger was sidelined for a fourth straight game on Wednesday with a jammed right index finger, but manager Scott Servais is hopeful the rookie right fielder will be ready to go when the Mariners open a four-game set with the Yankees on Thursday at Safeco Field.

Haniger bruised the finger when he was hit in the hand while trying to lay down a bunt in Saturday's win over the White Sox in Chicago, and he hasn't played since.

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HOUSTON -- Mitch Haniger was sidelined for a fourth straight game on Wednesday with a jammed right index finger, but manager Scott Servais is hopeful the rookie right fielder will be ready to go when the Mariners open a four-game set with the Yankees on Thursday at Safeco Field.

Haniger bruised the finger when he was hit in the hand while trying to lay down a bunt in Saturday's win over the White Sox in Chicago, and he hasn't played since.

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The 26-year-old has been able to take batting practice and hit in the cage, but he was still having trouble getting a good enough grip on the ball to make hard accurate throws from the outfield.

"I was hoping to get him in the lineup today, he's just not quite where he's comfortable yet," Servais said prior to Wednesday's series finale with the Astros. "The swing is actually OK. It's more in the throwing and gripping the ball the right way. He can throw, he's just not real comfortable with it yet."

With Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia playing well in the corner spots, the Mariners haven't needed to rush Haniger back, but Servais would like to have him ready to roll when Seattle opens a key 10-game homestand against the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets.

Haniger has been trying to get back on track offensively since returning from a six-week stint on the disabled list with a strained right oblique. After batting .342 with 20 runs and 16 RBIs in April, he's hit just .206 with 15 runs and seven RBIs in 28 games since coming back on June 11.

Pagan making his pitch
Emilio Pagan has been up and down four times between Triple-A Tacoma and the Mariners already this season, but the 26-year-old rookie right-hander could earn himself a more stable stay in the bullpen if he continues performing as he's done recently.

Pagan gave up one run on two hits with three strikeouts over two innings in Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Astros, providing some needed rest for a bullpen that had been heavily used in the first four games coming out of the All-Star break.

Video: SEA@CWS: Pagan strikes out Anderson swinging

The South Carolina native got hit hard in his first stint in the Majors in early May, allowing five runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings in two outings. But since then, he's allowed just four hits and one run in 12 1/3 frames.

"He's doing some things different -- using his fastball more at the top of the zone, which has really been effective," Servais said. "And I thought last night he threw some good breaking balls. He's working his way into a nice little niche in our bullpen, and we're going to need him. It's nice to be able to fire him out there for multiple innings and feel good -- lefties, righties, whoever he's facing."

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

Seattle Mariners, Mitch Haniger