8/8/2014 2:57 A.M. ET
Sunday starter still up in the air
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Although manager Lloyd McClendon still hasn't announced the starter for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox, he did rule out the idea of a bullpen-by-committee outing on Thursday.
The Mariners will temporarily add a sixth starter to the rotation for that one game, which lines Felix Hernandez, Chris Young and Hisashi Iwakuma up to face the Blue Jays in next week's series against the team currently leading the race for the American League's second Wild Card spot.
The logical options are Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker, both of whom are currently with Triple-A Tacoma. There had been some thought that reliever Tom Wilhelmsen might get another crack at starting, which he did against the Twins on July 10, but McClendon nixed that notion.
"I would say, in all likelihood, it's not going to be a bullpen [day]," he said. "We did that last time because we were so close to the All-Star break and we could afford to do that. But I just can't imagine, with our bullpen in as good shape as it is right now, to risk losing a day or two with it. So we won't do that."
Ramirez, 24, was scheduled to start on Thursday night for Tacoma, so that outing likely will be cut short if he's chosen to come up on Sunday. He is 1-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 starts for Seattle this season but gave up just two runs with 10 strikeouts in seven innings against the Mets in his most recent spot start, on July 24.
Walker, 21 and the team's top prospect, threw on Sunday for the Rainiers, but he gave up eight hits and eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in his worst outing of the season. He's 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts for Seattle this season.
Arthroscopic surgery on tap for Bloomquist
SEATTLE -- Veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Friday as he and the Mariners seek answers to a lingering issue that has sidelined him the last two weeks.
Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the Mariners' medical director, will perform the procedure, after which Bloomquist will learn if he'll need more serious treatment.
Bloomquist injured his right knee when stretching for the bag trying to beat out an infield single on July 23. The fact it was his back leg that was hurt on the play is just part of what has turned into a frustrating situation.
"It was the other knee," Bloomquist said. "That's what made it even that much more puzzling. It has gotten better. I'm walking significantly better, but to even mention the word jog or run just hurts, so obviously, something isn't right.
"It's not progressing the way it should be if it was just something very minor. The MRI didn't show a ton wrong with it, other than wear and tear and some mileage. But there's obviously something else going on."
Bloomquist signed a two-year contract as a free agent last winter that pays him $2.8 million this season and $3 million in 2015. The move brought him back to the franchise for which he played his first seven Major League seasons and to the area where he grew up (Bremerton).
To get hurt now, with the club competing for a playoff berth, is a blow he is trying to absorb.
"It's awfully frustrating, just due to the position we're in as a team, the fact I was finally starting to feel pretty decent at the plate, swinging the bat pretty well," he said. "But more than anything, this is the situation I'd always hoped for in a Mariners uniform, being in a pennant race, coming down to the stretch run and being a big part of it.
"So to have the rug pulled out from under me a little on that, for me, personally, it's frustrating. And I also feel an obligation to my teammates to be on the field if I can. Right now I just can't, so in a sense I feel like I'm letting them down a little. But on the other hand, I'm not going to sit here and let my sorrows bring what's going on around here down, because we've got a good thing going.
"I'm trying to be positive and help these guys along. If I see something that can help out, I'll speak my opinion. There's ways you can be positive and help the team even in the situation I'm in, so that's what I've got to try to do."
Bloomquist has hit .278 in 47 games for the Mariners while starting games at first, second, shortstop, third, left field and designated hitter.
Elias optioned to Tacoma for a short break
SEATTLE -- After picking up his ninth win of the season with a 13-3 victory over the White Sox, rookie southpaw Roenis Elias, 25, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Manager Lloyd McClendon said that Elias will be given a short break, probably making one start of four or five innings, then return to the team in 11 days when the club is in Philadelphia for a series starting Aug. 18.
"He's done a nice job," McClendon said. "But we still have to watch his innings. We're going to option him to Triple-A so he can skip a turn here and back off a little bit. These are pressure innings for a young kid coming out of Double-A. He had 130 innings last year ... and he's at 135 now already."
Elias has made more starts (23) and thrown more innings (134 2/3) than any rookie in the Majors.
McClendon said that a corresponding roster move would be made on Friday, with the club likely to add a position player for the next two days before bringing up a pitcher to make a spot start on Sunday. Erasmo Ramirez was pulled after throwing two innings and allowing one run on one hit in Tacoma on Thursday in what presumably was a light throwing day before getting the Sunday promotion.
But McClendon said that Sunday's starter wouldn't be named until Saturday, which is likely when the position player will be sent back down.
McClendon said that Elias wouldn't be needed for now, since the club has an off-day next Thursday.
"We have days off, so it works out just fine," he said. "I don't really need a fifth starter right now."
Elias, who allowed just two hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings on Thursday, feels strong but understands the situation.
"The team is doing what is best for me," Elias said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. "I've got a lot of innings so far, and they're trying to keep me healthy. So they're doing what is best for the team."
Miller assuming more of a utility role
SEATTLE -- With veteran Willie Bloomquist out with an injured knee and rookie Chris Taylor playing well at shortstop, Brad Miller could be assuming Bloomquist's utility role as the team heads into the stretch run.
"We miss him," manager Lloyd McClendon said of Bloomquist. "I'd be lying if I said we didn't. He was very productive and was able to play a lot of different positions. We don't have that proven guy right now. To this point we're making out, but we'll do the best we can."
Miller has started 88 games at shortstop in his second season in the Majors, but Taylor leapfrogged him on the depth chart this month and will get the majority of time there if he continues playing well, according to McClendon.
Consequently, Miller has been taking ground balls at second and third base in pregame work and could be used in the outfield in an emergency.
"I'll try to balance it, try to get Brad in there and keep him sharp," McClendon said. "But right now, [Taylor] is going to play. He's played well, he's performed well, he's playing great on defense and he's getting some big hits for us."
Miller, 24, opened the door for Taylor by hitting just .199 after batting .265 in 76 games last season as a rookie. But he is an eager worker who will do whatever is asked, including playing the outfield, which he says he hasn't done since he was a 15-year-old on a loaded youth All-Star team in Orlando, Fla.
"The last time I played outfield was when me and Nick Franklin played together and we had Tyler Pastornicky from the Braves and Nolan Fantana, who is in the Minors with the Astros," Miller said. "I played left field. That's the only time in my life I played outfield. We had four guys, and we just rotated -- second, short, third, left. And that was, like, one week. Then we went back to our different teams and played short."
Miller is more adept at second and third base, where he played a handful of games in the Minors and earlier in his career. For now he'll back up Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager at those spots in addition to working at shortstop.
• Infield coach Chris Woodward replaced Andy Van Slyke as first-base coach for Thursday's game after Van Slyke injured his knee throwing batting practice in the cage on Wednesday.
"That knee is pretty sore, so we'll see how he's feeling tomorrow," McClendon said. "There's something popping in there, and that's never a good thing. It's called old age."
• When Cano hit a pair of doubles on Wednesday against the Braves, it was his first game with two extra-base hits since May 21, when he doubled and homered at Texas. That stretch of 62 games was his longest without multiple extra-base hits since going 84 over the 2005-06 seasons with the Yankees.