Mariners’ rookie Romero taking advantage of increased playing time

SEATTLE — Rookie outfielder Stefen Romero is starting to reap the benefits from more-regular duty in the Seattle Mariners’ lineup.

“The more at-bats you get day in and day out,” he said, “the more you feel that sense of comfort. You get in a routine every day. Luckily, that’s what it’s been.”

It’s a cyclical thing, of course. Better results lead to more playing time, which can then lead to better results. Rinse, repeat.

“I didn’t really have a consistent routine (when not playing regularly),” Romero said. “Now, since Saundo (Mike Saunders) is a little banged up, I’m in there a little more.

“It gives me a little more of an opportunity to stay consistent.”

Romero, 25, entered Tuesday at 10-for-32 in his last nine starts after delivering his first career three-hit game in Monday’s 12-5 victory over Tampa Bay at Safeco Field.

That recent surge also includes Romero’s first two career homers.

“When you swing the bat like that,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “you’re going to play.”

For now, at least.

Saunders is still nursing a hyperextended left knee, which he suffered Saturday when he tripped and fell while chasing a fly ball. But when Saunders is again healthy?

That depends on whether Romero continues to hit.

“I don’t think he’s a platoon guy,” McClendon said. “If you look at his numbers … he’s hit both right-handers and left-handers in the minors.”

Bullpen workouts

Lefty James Paxton and right-hander Taijuan Walker will have bullpen workouts from a mound prior to today’s game in their ongoing recovery from injuries.

Plans call for Paxton to mix in more curveballs, but probably no cutters, in a 45-pitch session that marked his third bullpen session in his recovery from a strained back muscle (left latissimus dorsi).

If all goes well, he is likely to progress to pitching in simulated games by the weekend. Typically, a pitcher work two simulated games before embarking on a minor-league rehab assignment.

Walker is slotted for 35 pitches in a second bullpen workout following his latest recurrence of shoulder soreness. He will be limited to fastballs and

changeups.

Paxton was diagnosed with a strained lat following his removal from the April 8 game against the Angels. Walker has battled shoulder soreness since early in spring training.

Three a charm?

The Mariners entered Tuesday with a chance to do something they’ve never done: hit three homers in three straight games at Safeco Field.

The last time they hit three or more homers in three straight games — anywhere — was May 17-19, 1999 in a three-game sweep of Minnesota at the Kingdome.

Roughly two month later, July 15 to be exact, the Mariners moved into Safeco Field.

Short hops

Saunders shows improvement in his recovery from a hyperextended left knee, but McClendon said he hopes not to use him until the upcoming road trip. … Outfielder/DH Logan Morrison again tested his strained right hamstring by running the bases. He did so Monday for the first time since the injury. … Rookie center fielder James Jones and Romero carved a niche in Mariners’ history when both scored three runs in Monday’s victory. Never before had two rookies scored three or more runs in the same game.

Looking back

It was 18 years ago Wednesday — May 14, 1996 — that an opponent pitched a complete-game, no-hitter against the Mariners for the first time in history.

New York right-hander Dwight Gooden walked six but held on for a 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Mark Langston and Mike Witt combined on a no-hitter for the Angels in a 1-0 victory on April 11, 1990. The only other no-hitter against he Mariners was the perfect game by Chicago’s Philip Humber on April 21, 2012.

On tap

The Mariners and Rays conclude their three-game series at 12:40 p.m. today at Safeco Field. Right-hander Brandon Maurer (1-1 with a 6.20 ERA) will face Tampa Bay righty Jake Odorizzi (1-3 and 5.79).

Root Sports will carry the game.

The Mariners have an open date Thursday before starting a road trip that includes three games in Minnesota and two in Texas.

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