Gonzales is scheduled to throw the first of two bullpen sessions on Monday.

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OAKLAND — Marco Gonzales has no plans of ending his season on the disabled list. He plans to finish the marathon grind of his first full season at the big league level by trying to help the Mariners hold onto their postseason hopes with a few late starts.

On Sunday afternoon, Gonzales took one step closer to getting back into the rotation with an intense flat ground throwing session. The strained muscle in his neck that sent him to the disabled list was no longer tight and restricting.

“It’s finally loosened up,” he said. “We are definitely making steps to get back on the hill and try to get back out there and pitch in a game.”

The plan is for Gonzales to throw a bullpen session before Monday’s game in Seattle vs. the Orioles.

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“Obviously, like every day, it depends on how I recover and how it feels afterward, but tentatively, yes, tomorrow,” he said. ” A light bullpen just to get my legs under me and feel good behind the ball. And we’ll probably have to do another one after that before a game.”

Gonzales is not listed in the Mariners pitching probables for the series vs. the Orioles, but it’s not impossible for him to return for the series vs. the Yankees over the weekend, but the the two-game series vs. the Padres on Sept. 11-12 seems like a better possibility.

“If that goes well, we’ll have a better idea where that leads us,” manager Scott Servais said of the bullpens. “I’m much more encouraged based on what the trainers have told me the last couple days. And his arm is fine. There’s no issues with that. We’ll see how he feels when he gets on the slope.”

The time on the DL has allowed Gonzales to recover from a heavy workload this season. The 25 starts and 145 2/3 innings pitched are career highs for him. While he won’t admit to being fatigued, his arm has felt rejuvenated with the time off. It’s one of the reasons he was throwing with so much intensity on Sunday.

“As soon as I was able to let loose, I wanted to because my arm has been feeling good,” he said. “The break has been good for my arm obviously. That’s the silver lining is that my arm feels good and hopefully it leads to a second wind here in the final stretch.”

 

Also … 

Nelson Cruz was hobbling around the bases for much of Sunday. The reason? He fouled a ball hard off the top of his left foot, giving him a bone bruise. While in obvious pain, Cruz didn’t want to come out of the lineup for the important game against the A’s.

“He was really sore today,” Servais said. “Nellie will grind through it. He’s one of the toughest guys we’ve got. And you hate to pull him out of the lineup. He certainly wanted in there today, but he’s not at 100 percent.”

Cruz had a first-inning RBI single off of Edwin Jackson.

*** Mitch Haniger extended his hitting streak to a career high 14 games. It’s the longest streak by a Mariners player this season.

*** Felix Hernandez hasn’t won a start since June 30. In his last eight starts, he’s lost five times and taken two no decisions.

 

Day

Date

Time (PST)

Opponent

Mariners

Opponent

Sunday 

 Sept. 2

1:05 pm

at OAK

Félix Hernández (RHP)

Edwin Jackson (RHP)

Monday

 Sept. 3

6:10 pm

vs. BAL

Erasmo Ramírez (RHP)

Josh Rogers (LHP)

Tuesday

 Sept. 4

7:10 pm

vs. BAL

Wade LeBlanc (LHP)

Alex Cobb (RHP)

Wednesday

 Sept. 5

7:10 pm

vs. BAL

Mike Leake (RHP)

TBD

Thursday

 Sept. 6

OFF DAY