8/27/2014 8:04 P.M. ET
Despite strong August, Cano not feeling sharp
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- While Robinson Cano was hitting .313 with five home runs in August going into Wednesday's series finale with the Rangers, the Mariners' second baseman said he hasn't felt great at the plate of late despite those numbers.
Cano was 2-for-12 in his last four games and had to come out of Sunday's victory in Boston in the fourth inning when he became sick with a flu bug that had sidelined teammate Logan Morrison the previous day. But Cano hasn't missed a game since July 20 and continued to lead the Mariners and rank fourth in the American League with a .326 batting average.
The Mariners haven't had anyone finish a season above .315 since Ichiro Suzuki batted .352 in 2009.
"Lately, I don't feel like I've been doing what I want," Cano said Tuesday after hitting his 12th homer of the season in a 1-for-3 effort. "I've been chasing pitches and been out front a lot. When I'm not late, I'm out front. I don't feel like I'm 100 percent staying back. But those things happen in the game."
It says much about Cano that he's continued producing even when not feeling his best.
"I made the analogy probably a month ago. He's like a prolific scorer in the NBA," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "You don't think he's done anything and you look up and he's got 23 or 24 points. I liken Robbie to that type of guy. He just gets it done. A lot of times it doesn't look pretty or flashy, but at the end of the day, his numbers are right there.
"He's been grinding it out a little lately. He was probably a little jumpy at the beginning of the last road trip. But he's fine."
McClendon had Cano as the designated hitter on Wednesday to give him a little break, with an off-day Thursday before Seattle plays 30 games in the final 31 days.
"That's to clean him up, get him off his legs," McClendon said. "He's got tomorrow off, then he should be ready for the stretch after that."
McClendon to miss two games for daughter's wedding
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon will miss the club's next two games on Friday and Saturday against the Nationals while attending his daughter Schenell's wedding in Chesterton, Ind.
Schenell, 31, is the older of McClendon's two children.
Bench coach Trent Jewett will run the team in McClendon's absence. The first-year Mariners skipper has guided the club to a 72-60 record going into Friday's series against the National League East-leading Nationals.
Jewett, 50, is in his seventh season as a Major League coach, and first with the Mariners. He spent the past three seasons with the Nationals, first as their first-base coach in 2011-12, and then as third-base coach last year.
Jewett spent 17 seasons managing in the Minor Leagues, including 12 seasons at the Triple-A level, and has a career record of 1,178-1,166.
Mariners option Paxton to make room for Erasmo
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was officially recalled by the Mariners on Wednesday to start against the Rangers, with rookie southpaw James Paxton optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a spot on the 25-man roster.
Paxton isn't scheduled to pitch again until next Tuesday in Oakland, at which point he can be recalled when rosters are expanded with September callups.
Ramirez was 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts for Seattle this season over five stints with the club, as he's split the season between the Mariners and Rainiers. The 24-year-old had a 1.15 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings over his last six starts in the Majors, though he's given up 23 hits and 19 walks in that stretch.
Ramirez opened the season as the Mariners' No. 2 starter with Hisashi Iwakuma on the disabled list and Chris Young and Roenis Elias still unknown commodities. He won his opener against the Angels on April 1 with seven innings of two-run ball, but hasn't had a big league victory since.
The Nicaraguan native pitched well recently in Tacoma, going 5-2 with a 3.12 ERA his last 10 starts and 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four August outings.
"I've seen a lot of growth," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "The command of the fastball is a lot better, his secondary stuff is more crisp. I don't think he's pitching away from bats any more. He's making quality pitches with two strikes. He's come a long way. This is a very deserving opportunity for him."
Ramirez's spot start, combined with Thursday's off-day, allows the rest of the rotation to get an extra two days of rest before their next starts and the start of the September stretch run.
"This move was made more because of what he's done and how he's pitched at Triple-A," McClendon said. "It afforded us the opportunity to back the other guys up. I'm really happy for him. I think he's come a long way."
McClendon didn't rule out a scenario in which Ramirez could remain in the rotation going forward if he pitches well.
"That's very possible. Absolutely," he said. "I would say it's Plan B. It's definitely in effect. We'll see how things go. But it's a definite option and one we'd be very comfortable with."
Paxton will remain in the rotation and slide right back in when he's recalled next week. The 25-year-old has been outstanding when healthy, and he threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday. Paxton is now 7-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 career starts, and 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in seven outings this season.
The only other Major League pitchers to debut since 1944 with at least seven wins and an ERA lower than Paxton's 1.71 mark in their first 11 career starts were Steve Rogers (7-3, 1.28 ERA in 1973 with the Expos) and Phil Niekro (8-3, 1.20 ERA in 1967 with the Braves).
Miller making successful transition to utility role
SEATTLE -- Since losing the starting shortstop job to rookie Chris Taylor last month, Brad Miller has begun adapting more to a utility role, and that transition now has him ready to play in the outfield if needed.
With veteran Willie Bloomquist out for the season following knee surgery, Miller has been working at all of the other infield spots, including first base, and nearly got the call in right field in Wednesday's series finale against Texas.
Instead, manager Lloyd McClendon put Miller at second base to give Robinson Cano a breather as the designated hitter. But McClendon said he's close to playing Miller in the outfield -- even though the youngster has never played there in his professional career.
"He's doing everything Bloomquist did," McClendon said. "It's a very valuable asset and he's more than capable of doing those things. He's a good athlete, and I don't think first base would be much of a transition for him at all. In fact, I gave serious thought to playing him in the outfield today. Our outfield coach is very confident is his ability to play the outfield."
McClendon said having a quality utility player is critical.
"We had him and he got hurt," he said. "We're trying to develop another one, and hopefully it turns out OK. It's a really a valuable asset and something we've been very concerned about. It just goes to show you how fragile things are. You're riding the high horse and think you're doing great, but you're one injury away from everything [being in trouble]. He's a very valuable piece right now."
• Right fielder Michael Saunders continues to be sidelined from his rehab stint with Tacoma by a viral infection. Saunders has lost seven to eight pounds, according to McClendon, and is likely still a few days from returning.
• McClendon said somewhere from six to nine players would likely be added to the roster when September callups are allowed after Tacoma's season ends on Monday.
• Outfielder Chris Denorfia's sore neck was improved on Wednesday, but McClendon said he hoped to give the veteran the day off in order to let him get back to 100 percent. Catcher Jesus Sucre was fine and available to play after taking a hard foul ball off his mask late in Tuesday's game.