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M's notes: Zunino returns to lineup

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By Ryan Divish
The News Tribune
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Zunino's left wrist was wrapped with a huge ice pack following the Seattle Mariners' 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
But the good news was the ice was purely precautionary. His surgically repaired left wrist made it through his first big league game back. And it held up while catching Felix Hernandez.
"I felt great," he said. "My hand felt good. My legs felt good. It was nice to come back and feel 100 percent."
Zunino's recovery has been rapid. He suffered a broken hamate bone in his left wrist while swinging a bat on July 26. Three days later, he had surgery to remove the broken bone. Now 34 days after going on the disabled list, he's back in the big leagues.
It was very pleasing for Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who started Zunino immediately, having him catch Felix Hernandez -- something he'd only done a handful of times this season.
"I think he's up for it," Wedge said pregame. "We've only got so many games left, and he's ready to play. My hope would be that he's going to be catching Felix quite a bit in his career."
Zunino allowed a wild pitch to get by him for him a run in the fifth inning and had a throwing error on a stolen base attempt in seventh, while going 0-for-3 with a walk.
Wedge believes that having Zunino back on a day to day basis will be a boost to his team.
"It's not a reflection on anybody else," Wedge said. "It's just a positive toward him -- his energy, his youth, his knowledge. Though he's young, he's very mature and very advanced. He has a passion to continue to learn about his pitchers."
Short hops
With a strikeout of Mike Moustakas in the sixth inning, Felix Hernandez has now struck out 200 hitters in five straight seasons. It was also Hernandez's 267th career start as a Mariner, which moved him past Randy Johnson on the all-time Mariners list. ... Wedge started rookie Abraham Almonte in center field. In the three games he's started for Seattle since being called up, Almonte has now started in all three outfield spots. "That's where he's played the majority of time in Triple-A," Wedge said. "I didn't want to break him in center field in Houston with that park and that hill. I wanted it to be a normal setting." ... Wedge said that Taijuan Walker will likely get one home start before his innings limit would be reached. If the Mariners stay on rotation schedule that would be Monday night at Safeco Field against the Houston Astros. ... Wedge wouldn't announce the three or four players he planned to call up from Class AAA Tacoma for September. He wanted to wait until they finished the season finale at Cheney Stadium. One of those players will be lefty James Paxton, who was notified yesterday of his call-up. It's likely that Paxton will pitch in the bullpen for a week and then take Walker's spot in the rotation. ... With his fourth inning RBI triple, Brad Miller has now reached base in 14 straight games.
Story tags » Mariners

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