SEATTLE -- With Tigers southpaw Drew Smyly on the hill Saturday, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon trotted out every available right-handed batter on his club to combat a pitcher with a distinct left-right split in his career.
Left-handed hitters have batted just .122 (5-for-41) against Smyly this season compared with .286 (36-for-126) for right-handers. In his three-year Major League career, the split is .194 for lefties and .260 for right-handers.
With All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano already sidelined by a bruised hand, McClendon opted for even more of a right-handed presence than normal, starting Willie Bloomquist in Cano's place at second, putting Mike Zunino at designated hitter instead of getting a day off with John Buck behind the plate, and having both his right-handed hitting outfielders -- Stefen Romero and Cole Gillespie -- in the lineup while sitting lefties Michael Saunders, James Jones and Dustin Ackley.
McClendon, who was the hitting coach for Detroit the past seven seasons, felt that was the best approach against Smyly.
"I know Smyly's pretty good," McClendon said. "He's tough on left-handers. This year, they're hitting .122 off him. That's hard to ignore. I'm just trying to put as many right-handers in there as we can and hopefully we're successful with it."
As for the left-handed Chavez in center instead of the rookie Jones?
"Just to give Jones a break," McClendon said. "He's been grinding it pretty tough. And I think Endy probably more equipped to handle a guy like this."
Cano misses third straight game with bruised hand
SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano has been one of Major League Baseball's most durable players over the past seven seasons, but the Mariners second baseman was forced out of Seattle's lineup for a third straight day on Saturday by a bruised left hand.
Cano played at least 159 of the 162 games every year since 2007 with the Yankees. This is the first time he's been out of the starting lineup for three straight games since Aug. 6, 2006, when he concluded a 35-day stint on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
Cano's current injury isn't nearly as serious, and manager Lloyd McClendon said there was some chance Cano might be available to pinch-hit on Saturday night against the Tigers if the trainers indicated continued improvement.
Cano was unavailable to the media as he underwent treatment, but said through a Mariners spokesman that "I'm a little bit better than yesterday. Otherwise, I don't know what I can say."
Cano bruised the area between his thumb and index finger in an at-bat earlier in the week.
"Just a bat jammed in there," McClendon said. "It happens to everybody. Some guys get it worse than others."
Cano went 0-for-4 and grounded into two double plays in his last start Wednesday against the Angels and then missed his first games of the season on Thursday and Friday. He was third in the American League with a .327 average going into Saturday's games and is second on the Mariners with 31 RBIs.
Since 2007, Cano has played in 1,172 out of a possible 1,188 games.
Chavez brings experience, leadership to dugout
SEATTLE -- Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon wasted no time getting Endy Chavez into his lineup after the club promoted the veteran outfielder prior to Friday's series opener with the Tigers, saying he likes the experienced presence the 36-year-old Venezuelan brings to the table.
Chavez went 1-for-4 with a double on Friday while leading off against Justin Verlander and starting in left field. He was back in the lineup for Saturday's game as well, this time hitting second and playing center field.
"He's not going to be overwhelmed by anybody," McClendon said. "He's a crafty veteran. I've always liked his bat. He knows what he's doing. He has the ability to put the bat on the ball. There's kind of a calming effect to a lineup when you've got Endy Chavez in there."
Chavez hit .267 in 97 games for Seattle last season and re-signed with the club this spring on a Minor League deal that contained a June 1 opt-out clause. If Chavez wasn't on the Mariners' Major League roster by Sunday, he would have been free to sign elsewhere.
The 12-year veteran, who also played for the Mariners in 2009, said he appreciates getting another shot with Seattle instead of seeing what options he might have had on June 1.
"That was the thinking of my agent, but I'm glad we don't have to worry about that," he said of the opt-out date.
Chavez hit .272 in 30 games with Triple-A Tacoma, while also helping mentor some of the young outfielders, including recently promoted center fielder James Jones. And that's another reason the Mariners like having him around their young club.
"I know I like to play baseball the right way and that's what I try to explain and teach to the young guys," Chavez said. "I was with JJ down there a little bit and we talked a lot. He's a good player. I like him and he can do a lot of stuff, so I've been watching him and helping take care of him. We have very good communication. Besides that, I want to put up some numbers so I can help the team, too."
For the moment, Chavez's addition gives Seattle six outfielders, four of whom are left-handed hitters with Jones, Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders also filling that role. Stefen Romero and Cole Gillespie are the only right-handed-hitting outfielders.
McClendon acknowledged the glut of outfielders, but said it wasn't an issue for now.
"I think we can make it work," he said. "We've got some Interleague Play coming up where we'll need the extra player. So we'll see."
• Kyle Seager's eight home runs at Safeco Field have already matched his single-season high for homers at his home park. All eight of Seager's long balls this season have come at Safeco. Last season, he hit eight of his 22 home runs at home and in 2012, he hit five of his 20 homers at home.
• Designated hitter Corey Hart is expected to miss about another month after going on the 15-day disabled list May 20 with a strained left hamstring. He's undergoing treatment and has begun riding an exercise bike. McClendon sounded an optimistic note Saturday when asked about his progress.
"Corey is getting better," he said. "And I say this cautiously, but I think he's ahead of schedule a little bit. When you rip it off the bone like that, it's going to take some time. But he is getting better and the doctors are pleased with his progress."
• The Mariners haven't officially announced Tuesday's starter in Atlanta, but all signs point to right-hander Erasmo Ramirez being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take the place of Brandon Maurer, who was optioned to Tacoma on Friday.