M’s NOTES: Mariners might not expand too much on Tuesday

When rosters expand Tuesday, M’s may not

There have been more than a few assumptions among postgame shows, blogs and hopeful fans that half the Tacoma Rainiers’ roster will suddenly appear with the Mariners on Tuesday when teams are allowed to expand their rosters.

If the Mariners expand at all Tuesday, it may be by only one.

General manager Jack Zduriencik said Sunday that the organization is reluctant to break up the Class AAA Rainiers, who had won eight straight games and were within one of first place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific North Division.

The Rainiers’ regular season runs through Sept. 7, and if they win the division they would face Sacramento in a best-of-five playoff series. The winner of that will advance to the best-of-five PCL championship series.

“We know it’s important for guys to be in the major leagues, but we also realize they’re playing for something,” Zduriencik said.

Anyone called up before the Rainiers’ season ends would be out of sheer need, Zduriencik said.

Russell Branyan’s back injury — he’s on the 15-day disabled list with a herniated disc — led to speculation that Tacoma first baseman Mike Carp may be called up. Carp went into Sunday’s game at Portland having hit safely in 14 of 15 games with a .354 average and 14 RBI in those games, but batted 0-for-4 on Sunday.

Manager Don Wakamatsu, however, said the team is considering several options at first base.

“We could play (Jose) Lopez over there, (Jack) Hannahan could go there. We could bring up somebody from Triple-A,” Wakamatsu said. “There’s a lot of things we’re trying to discuss right now.”

Morrow has forearm “tightness”

The Mariners won’t know for a few days the condition of Brandon Morrow’s right arm, although they weren’t concerned on Sunday.

He was pulled from Saturday night’s start for the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers after five innings and 73 pitches because of tightness in his forearm. General manager Jack Zduriencik said it’s the same area of the forearm that bothered Morrow at spring training, but he was feeling much better Sunday.

“Brandon said he could have continued pitching (Saturday),” Zduriencik said.

Morrow will undergo two days of treatment before he’s re-examined. While his next scheduled start hasn’t been ruled out, it seems more likely that Morrow will be pushed back a couple of days in the least.

Morrow is 5-2 with a 3.71 ERA in nine starts since being sent down to the Rainiers in mid-July to continue his conversion from reliever to starter. This injury may not eliminate the possibility of Morrow pitching for the Mariners in September, but it may not help.

For one thing, the Mariners aren’t sure whose place in the rotation he would take. Wakamatsu said the club has considered going to a six-man rotation in September, but there are drawbacks to that.

“We’d have to take somebody out of the rotation and that’s a little tough right now when guys are pitching well,” Wakamatsu said.

The Mariners also don’t want to mess with Felix Hernandez’s quest for the Cy Young Award. They want to keep him on an every-fifth-day schedule and, with off days every Monday in September, that will be difficult enough with a five-man rotation.

Of note

Wakamatsu said Ichiro Suzuki probably would return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the Angels. He has missed seven straight games because of a tight left calf. … Ken Griffey Jr. probably won’t play until Tuesday after missing three straight games with a sore left knee. … X-rays on Ian Snell’s right wrist were negative, and he barely had a welt Sunday after being hit Saturday night with a line drive by the Royals’ Mitch Maier. Snell said there’s no doubt he’ll make his next start Thursday at Oakland. … Despite the arrival of Chris Jakubauskas to provide a fresh arm for the bullpen, the Mariners also had pitcher Garrett Olson in the clubhouse — but not officially with the team — more as a just-in-case matter.

Kirby Arnold, Herald writer

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