Robinson Cano is raking despite two spring training hiatuses, Corey Hart is struggling after missing all of last season and Randy Wolf might crack the starting rotation despite being 37.
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano — signed to a 10-year, $240 million contract this offseason — will return to the lineup and hit third Wednesday against the Brewers in Peoria after missing the previous four games tending to a personal issue in his native Dominican Republic.
It was the second occasion Cano missed extended time this spring. In early March, he sat out four days while recovering from a root canal, then had three singles in as many at-bats in his first game back. While laid up, he used the handle of a broomstick to hit black beans as a way to simulate swinging a bat at a baseball.
He probably didn’t need the same drill while in the Dominican Republic to settle an undisclosed issue manager Lloyd McClendon said the club knew about in advance.
“He’s proven he can come back,” McClendon told reporters, adding that Cano worked out while away from the club’s Peoria headquarters.
In nine games, Cano is hitting .609 (14-of-23) with six RBIs and a 1.349 OPS, but has yet to hit a home run.
His next chance comes Wednesday against Milwaukee right-handed pitcher Wily Peralta in a matinee (1:05 p.m) that will have a delayed radio broadcast on 710 ESPN Seattle. Mariners right-handed pitcher Blake Beavan (2-0, 2.13 ERA) gets the start, as Seattle looks to improve on its 14-5-3 spring training record.
Wolf strengthens rotation bid
Despite age (37) and a 2012 injury (Tommy John surgery), left-handed non-roster invitee Randy Wolf pitched well Tuesday night in a 5-5 tie against the Padres. In four innings, Wolf, who missed the 2013 season recovering from surgery, gave up no runs, two hits, two walks and struck out three. It took 73 pitches, but it represented another step in his bid to stick with the big-league club.
“You really don’t want to get caught up in results of spring training games,” Wolf told seattlemariners.mlb.com. “To me it’s about getting stronger and better every time out as far as the sharpness of my pitches and my strength and durability. Today I felt good about a lot of things. Obviously I want to be a little more efficient, but I felt I was able to make pitches when I needed and was able to throw all my pitches for strikes.”
In four spring training starts, Wolf is 0-0 with a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings.
Hart foundering at the plate
The offseason acquisition pegged to protect Cano from the cleanup spot is off to a slow start.
Right fielder Corey Hart is 4-for-31 (.129 batting average) and has yet to hit a home run after missing the 2013 season following microfracture surgery to both knees.
McClendon said Wednesday Hart may get a few at bats in minor league games as he continues to shake off the rust.
Walker on the mend
Taijuan Walker, the top prospect in the organization, is making progress in his recovery from the shoulder inflammation that sidelined him Feb. 28 and kept him from throwing until mid-March.
Wednesday morning Walker threw a 50-pitch bullpen that included breaking balls. However, the 21-year-old isn’t expected to be ready by opening day (March 31) and the club hasn’t pinpointed an exact date for his return to the starting rotation.