Manager Lloyd McClendon said Mariners should not have to be cautious with ace before next start.

Share story

Felix Hernandez is “fine” after tweaking his left ankle in the sixth inning Saturday against the Red Sox, said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.

Hernandez tweaked his ankle facing the first batter of the sixth inning and came up wincing. He then uncharacteristically walked three batters. But McClendon said Sunday that Hernandez assured him his ankle wasn’t the reason for his struggles.

“We think he’s superhuman sometimes,” McClendon said, “but he’s only human.”

McClendon said the Mariners shouldn’t have to be cautious with Hernandez in his next start.

Miller an option at leadoff?

Brad Miller led off for the Mariners on Sunday, just the second time this season he has done so.

Miller played shortstop and went 1 for 4 with a solo home run. But McClendon pumped the brakes on whether Miller, who also hit two homers Saturday as the No. 2 hitter, was a long-term option at leadoff.

“I’m not sure,” McClendon said. “I mean, it’s just a small sampling. We’re talking about a guy who last year, remember, everybody was complaining he was hitting second and he was leading the league in strikeouts. It takes time. He did a nice job (Sunday), and he also did a nice job in the two hole. We’ll see.”

Cano struggling

Robinson Cano is slumping, but McClendon isn’t worried about his All-Star second baseman.

Cano has just four hits in his last 27 at-bats, including only one extra-base hit and two RBI. His average fell to .253 after going 0 for 4 on Sunday. Cano has never hit worse than .271 in his career and has hit better than .300 in six straight seasons.

“You look at the numbers, our analytical department breaks it down, and Robbie Cano is one of the most unluckiest hitters in Major League Baseball,” McClendon said. “He’s really hit a lot of balls extremely hard that have been caught. I’m not overly concerned because he’s not striking out a lot. I think when he gets hot, he’ll get it rolling.”

Notes

• The Mariners start a nine-game trip on Tuesday, but McClendon said rehabbing center fielder Austin Jackson likely wouldn’t join the team right away.

Jackson hasn’t played since May 3 because of a sprained ankle. He was the designated hitter on Saturday for Class AAA Tacoma and returned to the field for the Rainiers for the first time on Sunday. But McClendon said Jackson needs to get his swing back and make sure his ankle is OK.

“As much as we’d like to have him back,” McClendon said, “we have to be cautious with him.”