Mariners shifting Miller into utility role

Mariners shifting Miller into utility role

ANAHEIM -- Manager Lloyd McClendon feels Brad Miller can help the Mariners, he's just not entirely sure at what defensive position following Chris Taylor's callup on Monday to fill the primary shortstop role. But Miller, who has played shortstop throughout his college and professional career, worked in center field before the past two games and will now be groomed for a utility role.

"He's going to play all over," McClendon said. "My vision is hopefully to see him as a Ben Zobrist-type player. We'll see. Listen, this is not etched in stone. This is something we're trying and we'll see where it goes."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz's 'boomstick' paying off for LoMo

Cruz's 'boomstick' paying off for LoMo

ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz has done it all for the Mariners over the first 26 games of the season with his new club. The big man hit his 14th home run in Monday's 3-2 victory over the Angels. He doubled off Mike Trout at first base with a laser throw. And, yeah, now he's even got Logan Morrison untracked by loaning him one of his bats.

It's one thing to have the hottest stick in the big leagues, with Cruz retaining his Major League lead in home runs as well as RBIs with 26 after blasting his fourth homer in the last four days. But now he's sharing his weapons with teammates and that, too, is paying off.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz's 14th homer helps Felix move to 5-0

Cruz's 14th homer helps Felix move to 5-0

ANAHEIM -- Nelson Cruz crushed his Major League-leading 14th home run and Felix Hernandez remained unbeaten on the season as the Mariners snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Monday night's series opener.

Hernandez is off to the first 5-0 start of his career as he outdueled Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker, allowing just one run on six hits over seven innings to lower his ERA to 1.73. The Mariners are 6-0 when Hernandez starts and 5-15 in the rest of their games.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jackson lands on DL with sprained ankle

Jackson lands on DL with sprained ankle

ANAHEIM -- Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday after spraining his right ankle in Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Astros in Houston. The move opened a roster spot for veteran reliever Mark Lowe to be added in time for Seattle's series opener with the Angels.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said Jackson's injury isn't too serious, but he'll be sidelined long enough that it wasn't prudent for the team to play a man short during his recovery period.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Shortstop Taylor called up as Mariners tweak roster

Shortstop Taylor called up as Mariners tweak roster

ANAHEIM -- Shortstop Chris Taylor and left-handed reliever Joe Beimel were called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday to take the place of relievers Yoervis Medina and Tyler Olson, who were optioned to Tacoma after the Mariners' 7-6 loss in Houston on Sunday.

Taylor, 24, was competing with Brad Miller for the starting shortstop job in Spring Training, until he broke a bone in his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch. Taylor batted .313/.385/.475 with two homers, six RBIs and six stolen bases in 21 games for the Rainiers.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz powers way to AL Player of Month honors

Seattle slugger hit .322 with 10 homers in April to win award for first time in career

Cruz powers way to AL Player of Month honors

ANAHEIM -- It didn't take Nelson Cruz long to make his presence felt on the Mariners. The club's new right fielder and designated hitter earned American League Player of the Month honors on Monday for his outstanding April.

It was the first Player of the Month award for Cruz in his 11-year career, and he's the first Seattle player to earn the honor since Ichiro Suzuki in August 2004.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mariners rally, but fall to Astros on late HR

Mariners rally, but fall to Astros on late HR

HOUSTON -- Designated hitter Evan Gattis clobbered two home runs Sunday afternoon, including a tiebreaking shot into the Crawford Boxes in the eighth inning, to send the Astros to their 10th consecutive win, 7-6, and complete a four-game sweep of the Mariners at Minute Maid Park.

"It's been the most fun personally I've ever had on a team, and I think we might have something special," Gattis said.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith allows run after long scoreless stretch

Mariners rookie hadn't been scored upon in 19 1/3 innings, gives up decisive HR

Smith allows run after long scoreless stretch

HOUSTON -- It had to happen sometime to Carson Smith, but he would have preferred not to have the first run allowed in his career be a game-winning home run by Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis in the eighth inning of a battle the Mariners were desperately trying to win Sunday.

The 25-year-old right-hander had an amazing first two months of his Major League career, throwing 19 1/3 scoreless innings before Gattis spoiled that perfection with a line-drive homer leading off the eighth that lifted the high-flying Astros to a 7-6 victory, their 10th straight.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB reveals 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners

MLB reveals 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners

Mother's Day is Sunday, and for Melissa Rupert of Liberty Township, Ohio, it will be the first one to celebrate as the mother of a baby boy named Noah.

"He's my entire world," Rupert said. "Every day, I hold my baby boy as tightly as he'll let me and remind myself that he is my rock and my joy, and I barely think about ... breast cancer."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Relievers Medina, Olson optioned to Triple-A

Relievers Medina, Olson optioned to Triple-A

HOUSTON -- Relievers Yoervis Medina and Tyler Olson were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma by the Mariners after Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Astros as Seattle looks to make some changes in its bullpen.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said corresponding moves to add two players would be made Monday, when the team opens a three-game series in Anaheim as it winds up a 10-day road trip.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wilhemsen feels good about bullpen session

Mariners reliever to throw simulated inning Wednesday, may return around May 12

Wilhemsen feels good about bullpen session

HOUSTON -- Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen threw about 35 pitches in a bullpen session Sunday at Minute Maid Park and will next throw a simulated inning Wednesday when the team is in Anaheim as he moves closer to coming off the 15-day disabled list with a hyperextended right elbow.

Wilhelmsen has been sidelined since April 11 when he hurt his right arm while stretching before a game in Oakland. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he'll likely need one Minor League rehab outing before rejoining the club, which means he could be ready to return by around May 12, if all goes according to plan.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McClendon: Walker enduring growing pains

Mariners manager confident young righty will be 'pretty good finished product'

McClendon: Walker enduring growing pains

HOUSTON -- Taijuan Walker has made two starts on the Mariners' 10-game road trip. One was outstanding. One not so much. And that's the way things likely will be for a while with the talented 22-year-old right-hander, manager Lloyd McClendon said, as he makes his way through his first full season in the Majors.

"It's not going to happen overnight," McClendon said Sunday. "You see flashes of him being brilliant almost. Then you see the youngster in him, like [Saturday]. It's going to take time, but in the end, I think he's going to be pretty good."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blitz to 13 homers puts Cruz in elite company

Mariners' slugger tied for third-most HRs in season's first 24 games

Blitz to 13 homers puts Cruz in elite company

HOUSTON -- Nelson Cruz is going where few sluggers have gone in Major League history, with 13 home runs through 24 games, but now the Mariners' right fielder needs to figure out how to bring his team along for the ride.

Cruz smacked two long balls Saturday at Minute Maid Park, but Seattle fell to the red-hot Astros, 11-4, and dropped seven games back in the early American League West chase with a 10-14 record.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz homers twice as Mariners fall in slugfest

Cruz homers twice as Mariners fall in slugfest

HOUSTON -- Not even two more blasts by Nelson Cruz on the Mariners' four-homer night could sidetrack the soaring Astros on Saturday, as Houston roared from behind at Minute Maid Park for an 11-4 victory, the ninth straight win for the American League West leaders.

The Astros' 17-7 record matches their best 24-game start in franchise history -- also done in 1980 -- and the winning streak is their longest since 2006. Collin McHugh spotted Seattle a 3-0 lead as Cruz, Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino launched solo shots in the second, but the Astros responded with five homers of their own and rolled to their 13th win in the past 14 games.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McClendon seeking better looks at the plate

McClendon seeking better looks at the plate

HOUSTON -- The way Lloyd McClendon sees it, the solution is pretty simple. His Mariners seem to have squared away their early pitching problems. Now they just need to get the expected offensive production to support those arms.

The Mariners averaged 3.57 runs through 23 games, down from their 2014 full-season average of 3.91. After Friday's 4-3 loss to the Astros, their batting average registered at .236, down from last year's .244. The on-base percentage has slipped from .300 to .291.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hultzen overcomes nerves in long-awaited return

Left-hander pitches into 4th inning at Double-A in first outing since 2013

Hultzen overcomes nerves in long-awaited return

HOUSTON -- After pitching in his first regular-season game in 20 months, Mariners left-hander Danny Hultzen said he was thrilled to be back on the mound for Double-A Jackson on Friday, when he threw 3 1/3 innings and allowed just an unearned run in an 8-3 win over Pensacola.

"It was awesome," Hultzen told reporters Saturday in Jackson, Tenn. "I've been looking forward to that day for a really long time. I did my best just to calm down and have fun and enjoy it. Sitting out for so long, you get the itch really easily. You miss being out there."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Iwakuma still 3-4 weeks away from return

Wilhelmsen takes step forward with bullpen session in Houston

Iwakuma still 3-4 weeks away from return

HOUSTON -- Hisashi Iwakuma has begun playing long toss back in Seattle, but remains three-to-four weeks away from rejoining the Mariners, manager Lloyd McClendon said on Friday.

Meanwhile, reliever Tom Wilhelmsen took a step toward his own return from the 15-day disabled list as he threw a bullpen session at Minute Maid Park prior to Friday's game with the Astros. Both right-handers were big parts of last season's pitching staff that led the American League in ERA.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Former All-Star Quentin announces retirement

Former All-Star Quentin announces retirement

HOUSTON -- Two-time American League All-Star Carlos Quentin asked for his release from the Mariners after five games with Triple-A Tacoma and announced his retirement from baseball on Friday.

"Over the past several days, it became clear to me that my injuries have taken too great of a physical toll for me to be able to perform at the level I expect from myself," said Quentin. "As a result, I believe it is the right time for me to walk away and to refocus my energy on the next chapter of my life with my family."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz smashes home run onto train tracks

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Cruz smashes home run onto train tracks

After hitting 10 home runs in April to tie for the league lead, Nelson Cruz knew he would have to do something special to keep people excited with his dinger prowess. With the Mariners in Houston, he was struck with divine inspiration: Go all Jesse James-like and attack the train hanging out above left field at Minute Maid Park. 

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Mariners' power surge not enough vs. Astros

Mariners' power surge not enough vs. Astros

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis, Jake Marisnick and George Springer hit home runs and Samuel Deduno delivered an effective spot start on Friday as the Astros beat the Mariners, 4-3, for their eighth straight win.

Gattis continues to warm up after a slow start, hitting his third homer, a two-run shot in the first off Seattle southpaw Roenis Elias. Marisnick added a solo shot in the second in support of Deduno, who threw four innings of one-run ball in his first start of the year before turning things over to the Astros' much-improved bullpen.

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Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smith reflects on ongoing scoreless streak

Right-hander entered Friday with 20 scoreless appearances to start career

Smith reflects on ongoing scoreless streak

HOUSTON -- Mariners reliever Carson Smith is working on the third-longest stretch of games in Major League history without allowing a run to start a career, a fact that couldn't be hidden from him too long when he returned to his home state this week to pitch against the Rangers and Astros.

The hard-throwing right-hander made his 20th straight appearance without surrendering a run when he shut down Houston in the eighth inning in Thursday's 3-2 loss. The MLB record is 29 scoreless appearances by the A's Brad Ziegler in 2008 and only Matt Smith (22 games with the Yankees and Phillies in '06) has more than 20.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Three Clinton pitchers combine to throw no-no

Missaki paves way for first no-hitter for LumberKings since 2013

Three Clinton pitchers combine to throw no-no

Seattle Mariners Class A affiliate Clinton completed a team no-hitter on Friday night, its first no-no since 2013.

Mariners prospect Daniel Missaki was perfect through six innings before giving up a walk in the seventh, while relievers Kody Kerski and Troy Scott polished off Cedar Rapids in the eighth and ninth, respectively, for a 2-0 victory.

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Alex M. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Marty Noble

Cameron reflects on four-homer performance

Former Mariners center fielder recalls historic night in Chicago 13 years ago

Cameron reflects on four-homer performance

The game is challenging even for the most skilled participants, and confidence sometimes is in short supply. So deception occasionally is required. How else does a .227 hitter stand in the box at twilight, convinced he can handle an 0-2 Aroldis Chapman fastball? Other times, the deception is aimed at an audience. How often have we heard players deny being particularly motivated when facing the team that traded them? Happens all the time. And it's B.S. -- blatant subterfuge.

So it was refreshing to hear Mike Cameron readily acknowledge that the pinnacle performance in his 17 big league seasons was fueled to a great degree by wanting "to make life miserable" for the White Sox, the team that drafted and signed him, and then traded him.

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Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hultzen looks sharp in return from surgery

Former No. 2 overall Draft pick returns to pitch for first time since 2013

Hultzen looks sharp in return from surgery

Friday marked the first start for Mariners pitching prospect Danny Hultzen since 2013. The 2011 No. 2 overall Draft pick underwent offseason shoulder surgery that year, and did not pitch last season.

But after extended Spring Training work, Hultzen was solid in his return to the mound for Double-A Jackson, striking out four and giving up one unearned run in 3 1/3 innings.

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Alex M. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Paxton serves notice in strong start

Mariners lefty allows just two runs in seven innings

Paxton serves notice in strong start

HOUSTON -- As much as Thursday's 3-2, 10-inning setback to the Astros left a bruise on the Mariners as they exited April, there was a large positive to be gained from a strong start by James Paxton as Seattle's rotation continues to rebound.

Paxton had been one of the missing links in the opening weeks for the 10-12 Mariners, but the 26-year-old lefty served notice with seven innings of two-run ball in his longest outing of the season. And while that effort went for naught when Houston rallied to win in extra innings on a night the offense sputtered again, Seattle's rotation figures to be its strong suit in the long haul ahead and Paxton's performance plays large in that effort.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix, Cruz team up to top Rangers, finish sweep

Felix, Cruz team up to top Rangers, finish sweep

ARLINGTON -- Felix Hernandez improved to 4-0 on the season and won his first game in Arlington since 2010 as the Mariners beat the Rangers, 5-2, on Wednesday to sweep a three-game series and move within a game of .500.

Hernandez, who has a 1.82 ERA in five starts, gave up five hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings while topping Texas for the second time this year. He passed Jamie Moyer for the most innings pitched in a Mariners career at 2,095 1/3 and also struck out four batters to move within one of Johan Santana for the most strikeouts in Major League history by a Venezuelan pitcher at 1,987.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.