SEATTLE -- With Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Corey Hart all on the 15-day disabled list, the Mariners' search for offensive help has now turned to Logan Morrison, who is just back from seven weeks on the shelf himself with a strained hamstring.
In his second game since being activated, Morrison homered and doubled in a 2-for-4 night with two RBIs in Seattle's 6-3 loss to the Yankees on Thursday, a welcome sight for both manager Lloyd McClendon and Morrison.
Morrison was back in the lineup at first base in Friday's series opener against the Rangers, this time batting cleanup against right-hander Nick Tepesch.
The 26-year-old hit just .150 in his first eight games before going on the DL in mid-April. Thursday's home run and RBIs were his first since being acquired by the Mariners from the Marlins in an offseason trade for Carter Capps.
"It's definitely not the way I envisioned things going, but you can't do anything about it now," Morrison said. "I just have to keep moving forward, keep getting better."
Morrison has been hampered by injuries ever since hitting 23 home runs and 72 RBIs as a rookie for the Marlins in 2011, with two knee surgeries limiting his production the past two years. He said finally getting everyday at-bats for an 18-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma -- when he hit .308 -- helped finally get him in a groove.
"It's been huge," Morrison said. "At the beginning of the year, I didn't even have a feel for what was going on. Everything was to the second baseman. Now when I hit the ball to the second baseman, at least I know what I did. Now I have to correct that and maybe not hit so many there."
Morrison is a confident sort, enough so that he feels he could be a significant factor in helping the Mariners' offense going forward.
"I know what I'm capable of when I'm healthy," he said. "I feel, as every hitter should when they step in the box, that there's no pitcher better than them. Now it's up to me to execute, swing at good pitches to hit and put the barrel on it. Then whatever happens, happens."
McClendon said the extended time in Tacoma definitely paid off for Morrison, who was just 3-for-20 in eight games prior to his injury.
"There's no question about it," McClendon said. "The biggest mistake we can do is if a guy gets hurt, have him go down and get three days of at-bats and think he's going to be ready. I told him when he left that he'd come back here when he was swinging the bat well and I think it's paid off. He's got a little bit of a groove going and is feeling good about what he's doing and it helps."
Injured Hart takes some swings
SEATTLE -- Designated hitter Corey Hart took some early batting practice Friday, his first outdoor work since going on the 15-day disabled list after straining his hamstring on May 18 in Minnesota.
The 10-year Major League veteran says he'll likely begin some running drills on Saturday and doesn't think he's too far from being ready to go out on a Minor League rehab stint to get some game action in order to prepare for his return.
Hart drove the ball well in his hitting session, easily clearing the fence in left-center at Safeco Field several times before heading to the indoor cage to do some more work.
"I feel better," he said. "I haven't had any setbacks. I'm just doing the normal stuff. I want to make sure I don't go backward."
Hart missed all of last season following two microfracture knee surgeries while with the Brewers, so the two-time National League All-Star is all too familiar with the training room. He said this injury stint seems relatively tame in comparison as he figures to only be out a few more weeks, if all goes well.
"I'm used to worse things, so it's actually going pretty quick," he said. "It's coming along well. I don't see it being too much longer."
After working all spring to regain his timing following the missed 2013 season, Hart was batting .209 with five doubles, five home runs and 17 RBIs in 37 games before hurting his leg while stealing second base against the Twins.
Mariners extend arrangement with Everett
SEATTLE -- A 20-year relationship with the Everett AquaSox has been extended two more seasons as the Mariners agreed to a new contract Friday with their Short Season club in the Northwest League.
The AquaSox have been affiliated with the Mariners since 1994 and will open their new season Friday night at Everett Memorial Stadium under Dave Valle, as the former Mariners catcher makes his managerial debut.
"It is wonderful for the Mariners organization to have a Northwest affiliate so close to Seattle," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said, noting Everett is less than 30 miles north of Safeco Field. "We have a great relationship with the Everett AquaSox ownership and everyone involved with the entire operation. It is great that the AquaSox and the Mariners can share such a strong fan base in the Northwest. We enjoy working closely with the AquaSox franchise as we develop Major League talent."
This year's club will include a number of players taken in the First-Year Player Draft just last week, including right-handed pitchers Dan Altavilla (fifth round), Kody Kerski (eighth) and Vinny Nittoli (25th), catcher Adam Martin (10th) and infielders Chris Mariscal (14th), Sheehan Planas-Arteaga (24th) and Taylor Smart (26th).
Current Mariners Willie Bloomquist, Felix Hernandez, James Jones, Dominic Leone, Yoervis Medina, Michael Saunders, Tom Wilhelmsen and Mike Zunino all played at Everett earlier in their careers.
• Third baseman Kyle Seager was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup Friday for the first time this season after hitting primarily fourth (8 games), fifth (24), sixth (25) and seventh (5) as manager Lloyd McClendon continues looking for the best production from a team that ranks 10th in the American League in scoring, 13th in slugging percentage and 15th in batting average and on-base percentage.
"I'm just trying to mix things up," McClendon said. "We talk about this every day and it's almost like a broken record. We don't have a perfect lineup. We're trying to mix and match. We're trying to do the best we can and juggle this thing and stay afloat until we can get some guys healthy. He's 5-for-10 off [opposing pitcher Nick Tepesch], so I want him up there as much as he can possibly be."
• After holding the Yankees scoreless for the final 5 2/3 innings in Thursday's 6-3 loss, the Mariners bullpen had a 1.01 ERA over its past 26 games and had allowed just one earned run in the last 37 innings. The relievers rank second in the AL in ERA at 2.58 for the season, well ahead of the club record of 3.04 in 2001.
• The Mariners are 10-25 on Friday the 13th games in franchise history and have lost seven of their past eight going into Friday night's game with the Rangers.