SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge mixed up Saturday's starting lineup from its usual look, with Alex Liddi getting the start at third base and Casper Wells in left field. It's the second start of the season for both players.
The addition of Liddi and Wells to the lineup added two right-handed batters to face Oakland lefty Tommy Milone. Left-handed batters Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager had the night off for the Mariners. Although it might seem like a strategic no-brainer, it's somewhat of a new luxury for Wedge after last season.
"It's such a big difference between last year and this year," Wedge said. "Last year, we were scrambling to find nine guys to start, at times. This year, I feel like we have more than nine guys that are capable of starting."
Further changes to the starting lineup had usual designated hitter Jesus Montero getting the start behind the plate, giving regular catcher Miguel Olivo a rest. Wedge said he needed to give Olivo a day off this weekend from catching, but he still started at DH.
Carp's return will set off a chain of moves
SEATTLE -- Mike Carp will soon be pounding on the door, and the Mariners are going to have to make room for him to come back in.
The man who began the regular season in Tokyo as Seattle's starting left fielder -- and went down with a sprained right shoulder on Opening Day -- spent his second night on a rehab stint with Triple-A Tacoma and is already eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. This means manager Eric Wedge will have a big decision to make soon.
Carp, who hit .276 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs in 79 games last year, figures to have a spot in the lineup guaranteed upon his return. So the Mariners could decide between infielder Alex Liddi and outfielder Casper Wells as to whom is sent down to the Minors to make room for Carp. Both have Minor League options remaining.
Another decision will loom regarding the return of everyday center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who's on the DL with a partially torn right pectoral muscle. But that call will probably not have to be made for several weeks at the earliest.
Liddi and Wells, who both got starting nods in Saturday evening's game against Oakland, said they weren't thinking about what might transpire when Carp comes back.
"Now that I'm here, I'm just trying to help the team," said Liddi, who had two hits in five at-bats in two games prior to Saturday. "Whatever happens is not in my hands, so I'm just going to try to help the team as much as I can. Whatever happens is not up to me."
Wells, who had four at-bats in three games before Saturday's start, echoed those sentiments, saying he wouldn't feel any pressure to show what he can do in the course of one game.
"Not at all," Wells said. "Just take care of whatever business for that day I have to take care of. Hope everything falls into place. That's nothing that I think about."
Wedge said he preferred to look at the upcoming decision as a positive development that indicates a talented team and increasingly deep organization.
"We're going to keep the guys up here [who] we feel like [give] us the best chance to win ballgames, and the ones that stay up here are going to be because they continue to do that," Wedge said. "It's that simple. So as we get further into this, we're going to start stacking different areas of our club up a little bit, different positions. That's a good sign."
Concerned Sherrill gets an MRI
SEATTLE -- The discomfort in Mariners reliever George Sherrill's left elbow is nothing new. But the mystery of what could really be wrong was what had him the most concerned on Saturday afternoon.
Sherrill, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team is calling a strained flexor tendon bundle, said an MRI was done on the elbow on Saturday and he was waiting on the results.
Sherrill last pitched April 9 in Texas, when he gave up three runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings.
"Any good breaking ball bounced and hurt, and the rest of the breaking balls were just cement mixers," Sherrill said. "You try and hump up [with a fastball] and you got 85 [mph]. Nothing against anybody that throws 85, but I'm not used to it. When it's 85 and flat, it's kind of easy to hit."
Sherrill said he has a bone spur in the elbow that developed while he was with the Dodgers in 2009-10, and suffered more wear and tear in another part of the elbow while with the Braves last year. He said he was administered the innovative blood-spinning treatment known as a platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) injection last year. He described that procedure as "the worst pain I've ever felt in my life," and one that ended up being ineffective, so he decided not to go that route for this problem.
"The biggest thing is the anti-inflammatories that I've been on and kind of slowly graduated up," said Sherrill. "... They just haven't knocked it out and I don't know why. I'm not a doctor. I don't know how all that stuff works. I'm hoping it's just inflammation, and we can get it calmed down and be back shortly."
After his second-inning home run on Saturday, Montero has recorded a hit in eight of his nine games as a Mariner, including a current eight-game hitting streak.
Entering Saturday, the Mariners had been outscored 17-9 in the seventh inning or later this season.
Prior to Saturday's game, dating back to last season, the Mariners had been shut out in four of the last five games, including three straight. They had not scored in 29 straight innings at home.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB and read his MLBlog, Youneverknow. Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.