Felix, Walker, Miley and now Sampson dealing with ailments; LeBlanc expected to start Friday
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- The Mariners are returning to Seattle after a 2-8 road trip with a depleted starting rotation. They host the Cardinals in a three-game series this weekend with Taijuan Walker's spot in the rotation due up Friday, but he is battling tendinitis in his right foot.
Wade LeBlanc, recently acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays and sent to Triple-A Tacoma, is expected to make that start instead, though the club has yet to announce it and still has to make a roster move to clear space for him.
Walker left his last start on Sunday with soreness in his foot after pitching five innings during the team's loss at Boston. A start from LeBlanc would likely help Walker avoid a trip to the DL, as he has no structural damage in his foot.
Servais said Friday's starter will be announced before the opener with St. Louis, and the Mariners will also provide another update on the condition of starter Wade Miley, who is on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury. Servais had to use six relievers for a total of 10 innings in Thursday's 5-4 extra-inning loss to the Tigers after Adrian Sampsonhad to leave two warmup pitches in before the bottom of the first.
"[The bullpen] is a mess," the manager said. "We're a trainwreck. We'll have to figure that out."
Servais said he expects Miley to be immediately activated when he is eligible to come off the DL next Tuesday, and said the lefty has progressed fine without any potential setbacks.
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (right calf strain) is the third starter battling an injury. Servais said earlier in the week that Hernandez is making progress as well, and the manager expects his return could come soon.
The Seattle rotation suffered another blow when Sampson experienced discomfort in his right elbow Thursday. While he was disappointed with another injury piling up, and the way the game ended -- a walk-off wild pitch -- Servais said he was pleased with his bullpen's performance throughout the game. After Vidal Nuno allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings, four pitchers teamed up to hold the Tigers scoreless over 4 2/3 innings. Steve Cishek gave up the walk-off run in his 1 2/3 frames.
"I thought our pitching staff did a phenomenal job today," Servais said. "With Sampson walking off the mound before he pitched, we were up against it. But a number of guys are hanging, they took the ball and went. I can't say enough about the job they did. We just didn't get it done at the end."
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.