Rodney was not available to pitch Sunday. Carson Smith unlikely to throw three or more days in a row.

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The Mariners didn’t need a closer in their 3-1 loss to the Rays on Sunday. But if they did, it wouldn’t have been Fernando Rodney.

The all-star was not available to pitch in almost any circumstance.

“Unless the game goes 17 innings and he’s the last man standing,” manager Lloyd McClendon said pregame.

Instead, Rodney was working extensively in the bullpen with pitching coach Rick Waits and bullpen coach Mike Rojas on fixing some mechanical issues.

Rodney has had an up-and-down season with three blown saves, far too many walks and hits and a 6.94 ERA.

McClendon isn’t certain how he will work Rodney back into game situations. But he’s going to pitch. They can’t go with a six-man bullpen and a spectator with an offset cap.

“It depends a lot on what goes on with the bullpen as it is right now, particularly with Carson Smith and how he responds,” McClendon said. “We are just going to roll with the punches.”

From a health and performance standpoint, the Mariners are hesitant to use Smith three games in a row.

McClendon mentioned Smith’s outing at Tampa on May 25, his third appearance in four days. Smith worked a scoreless inning, but his velocity on his power sinker was down from 94-95 mph to 89-91. Smith admitted to feeling fatigued during that appearance. The Mariners waited six days to pitch him again.

Smith might not get the call to start every ninth inning if the Mariners are leading. McClendon said he’d still use situational matchups, particularly if a tough left-handed hitter, or hitters, is starting that last inning.

“You would probably see [Charlie] Furbush start that inning then,” he said.

When McClendon met with Rodney before Saturday’s game, the veteran closer understood the reasoning for the decision.

“He’s a tough kid,” McClendon said. “Things haven’t gone as planned for him. He’ll be OK.”

Cano gets day off

When Sunday’s lineup came out, Robinson Cano’s name was nowhere to be found — not at his customary second base position, not at designated hitter.

Over his last 10 games, Cano is hitting .154 (6 for 39) with a .421 on-base plus slugging percentage. Those numbers might have gotten lower had Cano faced Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer. In 15 career plate appearances against Archer, Cano has never gotten a hit. He’s drawn a walk and driven in two runs.

“A lot of things went into this,” McClendon said. “It gives him a mental break. Hopefully he can recharge the batteries and be ready to go in Cleveland.”

A misread sign

With runners on first and third and two outs in the fourth inning, Nelson Cruz broke for second on a steal. Catcher Bobby Wilson fired a strike to second base and Cruz stopped half way in between the two bases — no man’s land. He was caught in a rundown and tried to stay hung up long enough for Seth Smith — the runner on third — to try and score. After the three throws, Smith broke for home, but Cruz was tagged out before Smith could slide in.

It was a baserunning mistake in a season with too many of them.

“I tell you what,” McClendon said. “If my general manager thought I put that play on, then I should be fired. Nelly thought he saw something that wasn’t there.”

What did Cruz see?

“I had a misunderstanding about the signs,” Cruz said. “I was supposed to fake, but I went and stopped. Then I just tried to take make something happen after that.”