Paxton (forearm) set to return Wednesday

Lefty solid in rehab start; Felix to throw 'pen session Saturday

Paxton (forearm) set to return Wednesday

BOSTON -- A Mariners rotation minus four of its original five members is "starting to see light at the end of the tunnel," manager Scott Servais said on Friday, as left-hander James Paxton moved a step closer to rejoining the club next week.

Paxton threw four innings in a Minor League rehab outing for Double-A Arkansas on Friday night against Frisco in his first outing since feeling soreness in his left forearm following a May 2 start against the Angels. He allowed two runs on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts in a 55-pitch outing.

The 28-year-old southpaw was Seattle's top starter in the first month as he went 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA and Servais said he's slated to slide back into the rotation Wednesday, when the Mariners open an 11-game homestand against the Rockies.

Felix Hernandez, sidelined since April 25 with bursitis in his right shoulder, is expected to throw a bullpen session before Saturday's game at Fenway Park in his first time on the mound since going on the disabled list.

Hisashi Iwakuma, who hasn't pitched since May 3 due to his own shoulder issue, is "a few days behind" Hernandez, which means he could take to the bullpen mound either in Colorado on Monday or Tuesday or when the Mariners return to Safeco.

The fourth injured starter, Drew Smyly, is also progressing as he ramped up his rehab program Friday with a more-aggressive flat ground session that saw him throwing from 90-100 feet as he works back from a strained elbow that cropped up the final week of Spring Training.

"We're starting to put a tentative schedule together for those guys on bullpens and rehab starts and stuff like that," Servais said. "We're getting closer. Getting Paxton back will help, but we still have a lot of games to play before then."

Hernandez and Iwakuma figure to be sidelined at least until mid-June, while Smyly is likely looking at a July return.

Worth noting

• Outfielder Mitch Haniger took some swings in the cage and did some running in the Fenway outfield Friday. He will continue working out with the club for the rest of the road trip as he recovers from the strained oblique that has sidelined him since April 25.

• The Mariners lost both utility infielder Mike Freeman and right-hander Chris Heston on waivers claims to the Dodgers on Friday. Heston was designated for assignment Wednesday after giving up seven hits and seven runs (six earned) in three-plus innings in a spot start for Seattle on Sunday against the White Sox.

Freeman was optioned to Tacoma on Sunday and was still on Seattle's 40-man roster, but the club exposed him to waivers at some point -- a move that isn't publicly announced -- and the Dodgers picked him up. Freeman hit .067 (2-for-30) in two stints with the Mariners this season, but was batting .356 in 59 at-bats for Tacoma. That means Seattle's 40-man roster stands at 39.

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