Because of a sore left knee, Nelson Cruz won't be in the Mariners' lineup when Cactus League play opens on Wednesday vs. the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium

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PEORIA, Ariz. — For the first game of Cactus League play at Peoria Stadium on Wednesday, Mariners manager Scott Servais had planned to roll out a lineup similar to the one that will face the Rangers on opening day April 4 in Arlington, Texas.

On Tuesday, Servais posted the Mariners’ lineup that will face the San Diego Padres in the annual charity game that opens their Cactus League schedule.  But the largest and most-feared presence in the middle of the projected order was missing.

“I think we’ll kind of go with the lineup that was put together this offseason,” he said. “The only guy you won’t see out there is Nelson Cruz. He won’t play (Wednesday).”

Cruz’s left knee was “a little tender” in the first days of workouts, Servais said.

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“But he’ll be in there in the next couple days,” Servais said. ” No issue. We just want to take it a little slow with that one.”

Cruz participated in the first full workout and then felt some discomfort. It’s something he dealt with in the offseason. At age 35, Cruz puts himself through rigorous offseason workouts to prepare himself for the marathon that is regular season.

“I don’t know exactly what it was. I was working out and my calf started getting tight and then next thing I know my knee was bugging me a little bit,” he said.

But some rest and treatment in the offseason had cleared up the issue before arriving to spring training.

“It was good for the last three weeks, but the first day I came here, and I felt it a little bit,” he said.

The Mariners think the change in scenery and workout settings might be a factor.

“He’d been working out in Dominican running more on turf than grass,” Servais said. “When he got out here, the softness of the grass will sometimes flare up a few things. But I don’t see it as any issue or anything.”

Still, the Mariners are being careful. Cruz hasn’t been allowed to run in workouts or do outfield drills since the first day. He is able to participate in all hitting drills. But there is no reason to push him this early in spring, though Cruz expects to play Friday. He must pass a few running tests in front of the medical staff first.

“I don’t feel it anymore,” he said Tuesday. “But they want me to run today for the first time. I’ve been good the last four days, but they didn’t want me to run. So today I’m going to run.”

The Mariners’ concern with Cruz’s health is logical. He was their best hitter last season, batting .302 with 22 doubles, 44 home runs, 93 RBI, a .369 on-base percentage and .566 slugging percentage in 152 games.

He battled a quad issues for much of the last month and was limited to DH duties. Servais has said Cruz will still play some outfield this season but wouldn’t commit to how much time he’ll spend at designated hitter.

The rest of Wednesday’s lineup is as expected. Franklin Gutierrez, who normally would platoon in right field with Seth Smith, moves to designated hitter.

The Mariners will use Nori Aoki at the top of the order to take advantage of his bat control and ability to get on base.

“Early in spring training, opposing pitchers are only going to throw 35-40 pitches, and we’re not going to play right-lefts,” Servais said. “We’re going to get guys going here, get their at-bats and get it rolling until probably a week into it (and then) we’ll start doing the platoon thing a little more.”

The starting players are expected to get one or two at-bats and play two or three innings before giving way to replacements.

“Just a couple of at-bats to get a little feel,” Servais said. “Even in a spring-training game, you’re anxious to get out there and get it going, even the guys that have been around a while. So we’ll give them each a couple at-bats and then get the young guys in after that.”

Starting pitcher James Paxton is expected to work two innings before giving way to Donn Roach.

“It’ll be a couple innings, 35-40 pitches,” Servais said. “We’ll see how it goes.  It may be less; he’ll let us know how that goes. But he’s excited. Obviously, he’s in great shape. He’s worked his tail off this winter, and hopefully he’ll put the injury stuff behind him. I’m anxious to see him out there.”


Mariners lineup:

  1. Nori Aoki LF
  2. Kyle Seager 3B
  3. Robinson Cano 2B
  4. Franklin Gutierrez DH
  5. Adam Lind 1B
  6. Seth Smith RF
  7. Chris Iannetta C
  8. Ketel Marte SS
  9. Leonys Martin CF
  • James Paxton P

Padres lineup :

  1. Melvin Upton CF
  2. Skip Schumaker 2B
  3. Wil Myers 1B
  4. Matt Kemp RF
  5. Yangervis Solarte 3B
  6. Derek Norris C
  7. Alex Dickerson LF
  8. Jabari Blash DH
  9. Alexei Amarista SS
  • Robbie Erlin P

Here’s the complete Mariners spring training schedule with radio and television broadcast information.