It’s not the first time in the Mariners’ long and growing history of promotional bobblehead nights that the player getting honored with the much-coveted, much-hyped figurine wasn’t in the starting lineup.

Two seasons ago on May 25, 2012, then-manager Eric Wedge decided to sit a struggling Dustin Ackley on the night he was being honored with a bearded and bobbling head statue.

But what were the odds that Robinson Cano wouldn’t be playing Saturday night when the Mariners gave away 20,000 bobbleheads with his likeness on them? Slim to none.

After all it’s not as if Cano would ever struggle enough to be benched. Injuries were out of the question. He’s a guy who played in 159 games or more for seven straight seasons.

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So of course when the starting lineups were announced Saturday night, Cano’s name was noticeably absent.

It was the third straight game the All-Star second baseman missed because of a contusion on his left hand between the thumb and index finger. Cano injured that spot on his hand while getting jammed on a swing.

“He’s improving,” M’s manager Lloyd McClendon said before the game. “We’ll see how he is and if there is a possibility that maybe he could pinch hit tonight. I haven’t talked to the trainers yet. The treatment is certainly working.”

It was the first time since 2006 when he was on the disabled list with a hamstring injury that Cano wasn’t in the starting lineup for three consecutive games.

Cano didn’t meet with the media. He received several forms of treatment, and he did say through a club representative that: “It’s a little better than yesterday.”

Cano said the same thing Friday to the team representative.

He did make an appearance during batting practice, doing wind sprints and taking ground balls but did not swing a bat.

His absence did nothing to curtail the desire for bobbleheads as fans were lined up hours before the game to be one of the first 20,000 in attendance to receive them.


• With Cano out, McClendon rolled out a creative lineup to face Detroit lefty Drew Smyly. Because left-handed hitters were hitting .122 and right-handers were hitting .286 against Smyly this season, McClendon stacked his lineup with right-handers and left James Jones, Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley on the bench.

“I know Smyls pretty good,” McClendon said. “He’s been tough on left-handers. This year I think they are hitting .120, .122 off of him. That’s hard to ignore. We just tried to put as many right-handers in there as we could. Hopefully we are successful with it.”

McClendon even had Mike Zunino at designated hitter and batting third with John Buck getting the start at catcher.

“It was either catch him today or rest him tomorrow,” McClendon said of Zunino. “Here’s a chance to give him a day off and keep his bat in the lineup. He’ll catch tomorrow.”

• McClendon said DH Corey Hart is progressing in his recovery from a strained hamstring.

“Corey is getting better,” he said. “I say this cautiously, but I think he’s ahead of schedule a little bit. But you know when you rip it off the bone like that, it’s going to take some time. But he is getting better, doctors are very pleased with his progress.”

Hart has yet to do any activity other than briefly riding the stationary bike.

Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373


On Twitter: @RyanDivish