Marte optimistic about quick return

Marte optimistic about quick return

SEATTLE -- Ketel Marte hadn't seen the team doctor yet as he sat at his locker prior to Monday's game against the A's as the Mariners returned to Safeco Field to open an eight-game homestand without their promising young shortstop, but the 22-year-old said his sprained left thumb was already improving and he remains optimistic about spending just the minimum 15 days on the disabled list.

"I'm feeling better," Marte said prior to having the hand further examined by Mariners physician Edward Khalfayan. "They checked me when it happened [Saturday in Cincinnati] and said nothing was broken, but it'll be a little sore for a couple days. I'm hoping maybe Friday I'll take [batting practice], depending on how I feel."

Manager Scott Servais isn't so sure on that timeline. Marte isn't eligible to return from the DL until June 6, so there's no point pushing the issue prematurely after the youngster jammed his hand sliding into second base.

"It's just going to take some time to heal and get the swelling out and we'll go from there," Servais said. "I don't anticipate him doing a whole lot here, probably not any baseball activity this homestand."

With Marte out, Servais said he'll use both Chris Taylor -- who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday -- and utility man Shawn O'Malley at shortstop over the next two weeks. O'Malley was just called up a week ago and he's 3-for-10 in limited duty, including 2-for-4 with a double in in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Reds.

"We'll piece it together," Servais said. "I like what Shawn O'Malley has done so far. He is not a regular shortstop by trade, but he's certainly handled the position well enough. Chris is a regular shortstop by trade, so I think we'll mix and match.

"I want to keep both those guys in there and not put too much pressure on either one of them to think you've got to be the guy that has to run out there every day. We'll work back and forth with it and hopefully they'll keep us afloat. They will. Those are good players. They've done a nice job throughout their Minor League careers. It's just about getting them in the right environment and giving them the right opportunity here."

Taylor, in the starting lineup for Monday's series opener with the A's, said he'll just try to help keep the Mariners going.

"The team has been playing really well, so I'm excited to do my part and help any way I can," said the 25-year-old.

Taylor hit .239 in 84 games with Seattle over the past two years, but batted just .190 in 42 at-bats in Spring Training and lost out to Luis Sardinas in the battle for the final roster spot at utility infielder. But he hit .294 in 39 games with Triple-A Tacoma and credited new Rainiers hitting coach Scott Brosius for getting him right.

"I had a rough spring," Taylor said. "That was a learning experience for me, for sure, but the last couple months I've felt really good. I've worked a lot with Scott down there and that's really helped. Little mechanical things and just talking to him and picking up whatever I can. He's a World Series MVP [with the Yankees in '98] and knows what he's talking about. Being able to work with him every day and pick his brain I think has helped a lot of the guys."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.