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CINCINNATI – Michael Morse is getting antsy to play again.

Morse was eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but the Mariners plan to send him out on a minor-league rehab assignment — which they hope will be brief — before activating him.

They had planned to have the outfielder/first baseman test his strained right quadriceps by running the bases before Friday’s game, but wet conditions at Great American Ballpark squashed that. Morse, who says he’s felt good so far in his workouts this week, will try again Saturday.

“Hopefully, real soon I will be able to go out on assignment for a couple days and either come back before the All-Star break or after the All-Star break,” he said. “At this point, I just want to make sure I’m healthy for the rest of the year. This is a lot better than it felt before. I feel like I can play right now if I could.

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“Definitely, when I was playing in Oakland, I shouldn’t have been. So I compare it to then and I’m like, oh man, it’s 100 percent. I just want to make sure I don’t have to worry about this and play the rest of the games this year.”

Morse said he hopes to play through the season once he returns. Whether it will be with Seattle is another question, because he’s a trade-deadline candidate. It’s been a trying season for Morse, who started off hot but then had a finger injury, followed by the quad strain.

“I’ve got handed a bad deck of cards when it comes to my health,” he said. “If it wasn’t one thing, it was the other. But that’s how it goes sometimes. Everybody plays a little hurt during the year so you get used to it.”

M’s try Miller in leadoff spot

Rookie shortstop Brad Miller was excited to get a shot at the leadoff spot in Cincinnati and immediately delivered, with triples in two of his first three at-bats.

He said he batted leadoff all last season with Class A High Desert and AA Jackson, and “maybe one time” this season with AAA Tacoma.

“Hopefully, I can set the tone,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of experience, for sure.”

Manager Eric Wedge said that with Endy Chavez and Jason Bay not in the lineup, he decided to give Miller a try in the leadoff spot.

“I like having the young kids up top, then the veterans in the middle, then go back to the young kids,” Wedge said.


• Research by the Mariners and STATS, Inc. shows that the Mariners are the youngest team up the middle in the majors. C Mike Zunino, SS Miller, 2B Nick Franklin and CF Dustin Ackley have a combined average age of 23 years, 42 days. That’s just younger than Miami (23-69). A distant third is Colorado (25-20), followed by the Cubs (26-37) and Kansas City (26-56).

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