Mariners tab Montgomery for Sunday's start

LeBlanc moves to 'pen; Walker, Vincent set for sim games

Mariners tab Montgomery for Sunday's start

SEATTLE -- The Mariners have tabbed Mike Montgomery to make his third start since joining the rotation on Sunday in Toronto, while veteran Wade LeBlanc works out of the bullpen for now, manager Scott Servais said Wednesday. But Seattle's rotation remains largely in flux due to injury situations and an upcoming schedule that has the club off three out of eight days.

With Felix Hernandez coming off the disabled list to start on Wednesday and Taijuan Walker expected to throw a simulated game next week in Pittsburgh as he gears back up from a foot issue, the Mariners have some decisions to make.

James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma and Montgomery will start the three games in Toronto this weekend. The club would like to keep Hernandez on a regular schedule going forward, so he's likely in line to face the Pirates on Tuesday after Monday's off-day. That leaves decisions to be made involving Wade Miley and LeBlanc, with Walker's imminent return in early August further complicating the situation.

"We're not going to need all six starters here going forward," Servais said prior to Wednesday's game. "Obviously Wade Miley threw the ball OK [Tuesday] night. It'll probably be a situation where LeBlanc could give us some length out of the 'pen there in the short term."

Miley's solid home outing

As for Montgomery's status in the rotation?

"We'll see," Servais said. "I don't have to commit because we have all these off-days. We're going to try to use that to our advantage, especially where we're at on the calendar, knowing the [non-waiver] Trade Deadline is out there [on Aug. 1] and kind of what that could lead to."

Walker and reliever Nick Vincent, who is also on the 15-day DL with a mid-back strain, will both accompany the team on its upcoming road trip and both are expected to throw simulated games in Pittsburgh.

"We're starting to ramp up Taijuan's throwing," Servais said. "Same with Nick Vincent. We got a good report on Nick. We'll get him going again in a little bit. Nick did a great job for us, it seems like a long time ago, but he really did. He was the guy I probably overused as much as anybody, just because he was doing a great job and was willing to take the ball. Some injuries to other guys forced me to do that. But we've missed him. He's a valuable guy in that 'pen."

Vincent fans Cabrera

Worth noting

• Shortstop Ketel Marte was out of the starting lineup for a third straight day as he continues to deal with an illness that could create some problems as the Mariners fly to Toronto after Wednesday's game.

"He's lost some weight," Servais said. "That's the concerning thing. His tonsils are really swollen. He is on antibiotics, hoping that kicks in. But he's not feeling good. We have to make some decisions there."

Servais said Marte might be held back a day to see if he's feeling better on Thursday and fly on the off-day, but the club is feeling a pinch with utility man Shawn O'Malley the only shortstop option at the moment.

"It's really hard to run out there with just one guy as a shortstop," Servais said. "In an emergency, we could slide Kyle Seager over there and make do, but we're going to have to make a decision here shortly on that."

• Since making his debut on June 6, rookie right-hander Edwin Diaz leads all Major League relievers with 39 strikeouts in 20 innings. That's the most strikeouts in a reliever's first 20 career innings since 1974. Craig Kimbrel had 37 in his first 20 innings in 2010 with the Braves.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com 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.