The M’s considered moving Yovani Gallardo back into the rotation, and they still might later in the summer.

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CHICAGO — The announcement wasn’t official since circumstances can change over the next few games, but manager Scott Servais said the team is leaning toward having right-hander Sam Gaviglio fill the fifth spot in the rotation and pitch on Tuesday in Houston against the Astros.

“It’s probably going to be Sam,” Servais said. “He’ll probably come back when we get to that, when we need him in Houston.”

Gaviglio was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma on July 7 to make sure he could get regular work during the All-Star break and be ready to join the rotation in the second half of the season.

He’s made one start with the Rainiers since being sent down, pitching five innings and allowing three runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

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He’s been an unexpected contributor this season out of need due to a rash of injuries to the starting rotation. In 10 starts and one relief appearance, Gaviglio has posted a 3-4 record with a 4.31 ERA. They aren’t stellar numbers, but he’s covered innings that needed to be thrown.

The Mariners considered moving Yovani Gallardo back into the rotation, which might still happen later in the month. Gallardo pitched his way into a demotion to the bullpen, going 3-7 with a 6.30 ERA in 10 starts. But he has pitched well in the relief role. He has allowed just one run in three extended appearances, throwing 101/3 innings with eight strikeouts and three walks.

The M’s have two options for the corresponding roster move to bring Gaviglio back. The Mariners could send either outfielder Boog Powell or reliever Emilio Pagan back to Tacoma for the roster spot. That decision is largely based on the health of Nelson Cruz, who is still battling a bruised knee.

“It depends on where Nellie is at,” Servais said. “He said he feels better when he runs faster. But when he runs at half speed, or I call it below half speed, it looks like it really hurts.”

If Cruz’s knee improves, the Mariners could go back to playing with a 13-man pitching staff and keep Pagan as the extra reliever.

But if Cruz continues to struggle with the knee, then Powell will stay. The Mariners need a pinch-running option for Cruz late in the game.

“I do know I like him in the batter’s box, but we do need to have some coverage there,” Servais said. “If you’re in a tight game, and you’re down, you’re going to have to pinch-run. You can’t just leave him out there.”


• With Friday night’s scoreless outing from relievers Tony Zych, Nick Vincent and Edwin Diaz, the Mariners’ bullpen posted another strong showing.In the 46 games since the abysmal 8-1 loss to the White Sox on May 21, when Seattle was forced to use six relievers, the bullpen has posted a 2.74 ERA. That’s the lowest bullpen ERA over that span in baseball. During that stretch, Mariners relievers have thrown 1511/3 innings and have struck out 148 batters. By comparison, Mariners relievers posted a 5.60 ERA in the first 45 games of the season.

• The Mariners have not won a three-game series vs. the White Sox in Chicago since Aug. 10-12, 2007.