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Healy on DL, but Cruz, Gamel nearing returns

Mariners recall right-handed reliever Bradford
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

KANSAS CITY -- First baseman Ryon Healy joined a growing contingent of Mariners on the 10-day disabled list on Monday, but manager Scott Servais said reinforcements are on the way, with Nelson Cruz and Ben Gamel possibly ready to rejoin the team on Friday in Seattle.

Catcher Mike Zunino is also close to coming off the DL, and he could be ready by the end of the weekend or early next week, Servais said.

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KANSAS CITY -- First baseman Ryon Healy joined a growing contingent of Mariners on the 10-day disabled list on Monday, but manager Scott Servais said reinforcements are on the way, with Nelson Cruz and Ben Gamel possibly ready to rejoin the team on Friday in Seattle.

Catcher Mike Zunino is also close to coming off the DL, and he could be ready by the end of the weekend or early next week, Servais said.

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Right-handed reliever Chasen Bradford was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take Healy's place in time for Monday's series opener against the Royals. He pitched three shutout innings in his Mariners debut, with two K's, in Seattle's 10-0 loss. Bradford gives the Mariners a nine-man bullpen for now, though that will change once the injured position players begin returning.

Healy sprained his right ankle during a postgame workout following Saturday's 11-4 win in Minnesota, shortly after breaking out of his 1-for-21 start to the season with a three-run double during an eighth-inning rally.

Servais didn't have any update on the 26-year-old first baseman on Monday, other than that Healy had flown back to Seattle to see Mariners team doctor Edward Khalfayan after having an MRI in Minneapolis.

Cruz also sprained his right ankle when he slipped on the dugout steps after homering in the second game of the season, while Zunino and Gamel are both sidelined with strained oblique muscles.

Video: CLE@SEA: Cruz slams a two-run dinger to left-center

Gamel has played three Minor League rehab games with Class A Advanced Modesto, and now, he's joining up with Tacoma as the Rainiers move to warmer weather in Fresno, Calif. The left fielder injured his oblique on March 2, but he has fully recovered now and is just regaining his timing in the Minors.

"He's looked good," Servais said. "I've seen some video of him and he looks fine."

Gamel's return will create an interesting roster situation as Ichiro Suzuki was signed in early March to help fill in. The 44-year-old struggled with two defensive plays on Saturday in Minnesota, and he was at designated hitter on Monday, with Guillermo Heredia playing left field.

With the Royals starting a pair of left-handers (Eric Skoglund and Danny Duffy) in the final two games, Servais said the right-handed-hitting Heredia will get lots of playing time in left field in this series.

The DH position will be rotated until Cruz's return. Daniel Vogelbach had been filling that spot, but he's now at first base with Healy sidelined. Servais can also use Taylor Motter at first, particularly against left-handers, and he said he could give Robinson Cano a day at DH to let Andrew Romine play in the field at some point.

Cruz was set to hit in the cage and do some agility tests on his ankle Monday in Seattle to see where he's at, but Servais is optimistic the slugger could return by Friday's series opener with the A's at Safeco Field.

Because the ankle is not an issue swinging the bat and Cruz doesn't play in the field, the 37-year-old primarily has to just show he can run well enough on the bases to get cleared.

Zunino will be brought along more cautiously to avoid any setback with his oblique, which he strained taking batting practice the afternoon before Opening Day. The 27-year-old catcher likely will need a couple Minor League rehab games before he returns.

"I do not want Mike Zunino to rush back," Servais said. "That would be the wrong thing to do. Time is on his side. It's on our side on this one. When he comes back, we want him good to go and we can continue to play him instead of rushing him back."

Miranda targeted for April 17 start
The weather postponement of Sunday's game in Minnesota erased the Mariners' need to promote Ariel Miranda to fill the fifth starter role for Wednesday's series finale with the Royals, but Servais said the 29-year-old Cuban remains the choice when a starter needs to be added next week.

As it lines up now, Seattle will require a fifth starter to face the Astros on Tuesday, April 17, in the second game of that four-game series at Safeco Field.

Video: SEA@OAK: Miranda fans Davis to escape a jam

There was some thought that Erasmo Ramirez might be ready by that time, but Servais said there's no reason to rush Ramirez back as he returns from a strained right lat muscle that sidelined him from the start of Spring Training.

Ramirez made his first rehab start Saturday, throwing three innings for Modesto, and he will now join Tacoma to continue building up. He'll likely need at least two more starts before being ready to start for Seattle, which means Miranda will get one or two starts for Seattle before any decision is needed.

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

Seattle Mariners, Chasen Bradford, Ryon Healy