Walker among Mariners nearing return

Reliever Vincent, shortstop Marte also showing progress

Walker among Mariners nearing return

CHICAGO -- With the non-waiver Trade Deadline at 1 p.m. PT Monday, the Mariners appear close to adding some key players even without making any moves, as starter Taijuan Walker, reliever Nick Vincent and shortstop Ketel Marte are all making progress on the injury and illness fronts.

Walker threw a bullpen session before Friday's game at Wrigley Field, and he said all went well. The 23-year-old right-hander is on target to make a Minor League rehab start on Monday night for Triple-A Tacoma at Cheney Stadium after he missed the past three weeks with tendinitis in the arch of his right foot.

Walker could potentially rejoin the Mariners' rotation as early as next weekend against the Angels if all goes well in his rehab outing, though manager Scott Servais says the club will wait and see how things go before making any declarations.

Marte is on the 15-day disabled list after coming down with mononucleosis last week. The timetable for his return is still uncertain, but he's eligible to come off the DL next Thursday, and Servais indicated he was progressing better than anticipated.

"He's continuing to get better," Servais said prior to Friday's series opener against the Cubs. "He worked out yesterday and has been in to Safeco every day. He's starting to add to his activity level, doing some baseball work, as well, in the cage and playing catch, getting the cardio up and going. So things are moving at a quicker pace than I thought they would."

Vincent's return is likely further away since he's been on the DL since June 27 with a mid-back strain, but the right-hander threw a bullpen session on Thursday in Tacoma, and he will repeat that on Saturday before possibly heading out on a Minor League rehab stint of his own.

Servais enjoying return to Wrigley
While the Mariners are playing just their second series at Wrigley Field in franchise history and first since 2007, and most of the players have never performed at the historic facility, Servais played with the Cubs from 1995-98 and has fond memories of his time here.

"I was part of that 1998 club that made the Wild Card, and Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had the home run thing going back and forth," Servais said. "We called up Kerry Wood, and he ended up as Rookie of the Year that year. We played a one-game play-in to get into the playoffs. It wasn't the greatest year personally for me, but a lot of memories tied to that season and the electricity that was back in Wrigley Field.

"I was also back here for the night of the Bartman game. I was working for the Cubs then [as a roving instructor] and in the stands watching them play, thinking that we were going to get over the hump, and it didn't happen. The Cubs and tradition and guys that have played here at any part of their career, you do remember it. It's a different setup, different atmosphere around the park, and it's fun. It's what baseball should be."

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.