The Mariners are getting closer to being at full strength with shortstop Jean Segura and pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma possibly each back by the end of the week.
Monday’s game against Detroit kicks off a stretch of 16 of 19 at home that could go a long way toward determining the course of the rest of the Mariners’ season.
But the Mariners were also keeping a close eye on Tacoma and rehab assignments for two players there — pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and shortstop Jean Segura — that loom pivotal.
Iwakuma had been expected to throw 70-75 pitches Monday night with the team saying if all went well he could return to the starting rotation on Saturday against Houston — Seattle has yet to announce a starter for that game.
Iwakuma, who has been on the disabled list since May 10 with inflammation in his right shoulder, instead threw 49 pitches in two innings, allowing four hits, four runs and two walks, with 32 strikes.
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If Iwakuma can make it back by Saturday then the Mariners’ could be back to having 80 percent of their planned starting rotation available as Felix Hernandez will start on Friday for the first time since going on the DL on April 26, also with right shoulder inflammation.
Segura has been on the DL since June 2 with a high ankle sprain but is scheduled to be the designated hitter Monday night for the Rainiers.
The plan then is for Segura to play shortstop Tuesday night.
If all goes well, he could be back at some point later in the week — if not for the four-game set against Detroit that goes through Thursday then hopefully by Friday when the AL West-leading Astros come to town.
Manager Scott Servais, though, said nothing is yet set on Segura, who is hitting a team-high .350.
“He hasn’t played in a while,’’ Servais said. “High ankle sprain, moving around at shortstop is the biggest issue — lateral movement sometimes can be a little challenging coming off an ankle sprain. But the workouts have been pretty good. I don’t think he’s at 100 percent but I think he is getting close and a couple of games under his belt won’t hurt.’’
Also getting closer to a return is starter Drew Smyly, out all season with a left arm flexor strain.
Smyly could throw a bullpen on Tuesday followed by a simulated game later in the week and then possibly a rehab assignment.
Servais said the thought of getting the starting rotation back as well as Segura is “exciting.’’
The returns of Hernandez and Iwakuma, though, will also mean a few roster moves upcoming with the team having to figure out what to do with the two pitchers who have largely started in their absence — Sam Gaviglio and Christian Bergman.
Each has pitched better than the team might have expected — Gaviglio is 3-1 entering his start Monday against Detroit.
“We can only have five starting pitchers,’’ Servais said. “We’ll just take it a day at a time and see how Kuma comes out of it tonight. Sam has done a really good job for us. Kept us in a lot of ballgames and he’s getting more comfortable and the confidence is growing. Expecting a good game out of him tonight.’’
But Servais said it’s risky to start projecting much beyond a day or so, especially true with what has happened to the Mariners so far this year.
“There’s nothing definite yet,’’ Servais said. “Guys could go in a long role, guys could go back to Tacoma. Just wait and see.’’