The Mariners finally got some good news on the injury front.
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz took batting practice and ran the bases Friday when the Mariners returned home from a seven-game trip and seems on track to be activated from the 10-day disabled list before Saturday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.
Cruz hit home runs in the first two games of the season. He suffered a freak injury after hitting the second homer, twisting his right ankle on the bottom step in the dugout as he went to put his batting helmet and gear away.
That forced him to watch the team on TV the past week.
“I was going crazy,” he told MLB.com. “A lot of cussing at umpires and plays, turning off the TV like an old guy.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais said he got a phone call Friday morning from Cruz.
“He let me know where he was at,” said Servais, “and very sternly said he was ready to go.”
The Mariners also got positive reports on two other starters on the DL, catcher Mike Zunino and first baseman Ryon Healy.
Zunino caught left-hander James Paxton’s pregame workout Friday and also took some swings in the batting cage. Zunino suffered a strained right oblique while taking batting practice the day before the season opener. The Mariners hope he can return by the end of the seven-game homestand.
Healy, who sprained his right ankle in the weight room last Saturday in Minnesota, took some grounders Friday and also got some swings in the batting cage.
“I’m excited at some point hopefully here, maybe by the end of this homestand, we’ll be close to getting our full squad of the position group out there,” Servais said.
The Mariners had hoped outfielder Ben Gamel would be back Friday night for the series opener, when the team handed out Gamel hats – complete with flowing blonde locks – to fans, but it was determined he needed to spend more time on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Tacoma for his strained right oblique.
“With Ben, we were optimistic he might be back here this weekend, but as we started playing him a lot, we realized he needed to catch his wind a little,” Servais said. “He is physically ready to go, we just want to give him at-bats. He did not have spring training.”
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