Beneath the radar that seems to pick up only prized relief pitcher Rafael Soriano on his recovery from major elbow surgery, right-hander Clint Nageotte is staging his own successful comeback, too.
Nageotte, who was pitching for the Mariners at this time last year before back spasms stopped him, never made it through spring training because of a shoulder problem.
He’s back now, with the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers, and pitching well.
Nageotte, who made five starts last year for the Mariners, has been used as a closer with the Rainiers and recorded his second save Thursday at Portland. Since coming off the disabled list, Nageotte has allowed just three hits and one run in 71/3 innings of work.
He has been one of the few bright spots recently for the Rainiers, who lost their third straight game Friday and fell out of first place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific North Division.
Their roster thinned by the promotions of second baseman Jose Lopez and outfielder Chris Snelling to the Mariners, the Rainiers lost five of seven games and entered Saturday 49-38 and 1 games behind division leader Salt Lake.
They are finishing the weekend without two more of their top players. Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt will play for the World team today at the All-Star Futures Game in Detroit.
With right-hander Felix Hernandez still on the disabled list because of a sore shoulder, right-hander Cha Seung Baek has become the staff ace. He’s 7-3 after losing Friday at Tucson.
Offensively, catcher Wiki Gonzalez was hitting .349, first baseman Greg Dobbs .333 and outfielder Jamal Strong .311.
Elsewhere around the Mariners’ minor league system:
Class AA San Antonio Missions: Left-hander Bobby Livingston is tied for second in the Texas League with eight victories, and the pitching staff’s 3.65 earned run average ranks third in the league.
Outfielder T.J. Bohn’s 97 hits were second most in the league, and he was the Missions’ top hitter with a .300 average. Catcher Rene Rivera was batting .297.
The Missions entered Saturday 9-6 and tied for first in the Texas League West Division second-half standings.
Class A Inland Empire 66ers: Outfielder Matt Rogelstad entered the weekend batting .310 and had 29 multi-hit games. Asdrubal Cabrera was batting .340 in 12 games since being promoted from Class A Wisconsin.
Jason Mackintosh’s 79 strikeouts ranked sixth in the California League, and his 1081/3 innings were a league high.
The 66ers went into the weekend 6-8 and fourth in the South Division standings.
Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers: Outfielder Josh Womack has been on a hitting tear, with 18 multi-hit games and a .412 average in four games entering the weekend.
Yung Chi Chen had 96 hits, tied for fifth in the Midwest League, and Matt Tuiasosopo was hitting .282 with six home runs and 32 RBI.
Right-hander Jason Snyder was 9-6 with a 4.47 ERA, and he was tied for third in victories.
The Rattlers, who won the Western Division first-half title, were 6-10 and five games out of first place through Friday.
Class A Peoria Mariners: Outfielder Oswaldo Graterol led the Mariners with a .483 average, and first baseman Andy Hargrove (son of M’s manager Mike Hargrove) was hitting .341. Right-hander Harold Williams was 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four starts. He had struck out 21 in 19 innings and opponents were hitting .186 off him.
The Mariners were 4-10 and tied for seventh in the Arizona League standings.
Abbott pitching again: Former Mariner Paul Abbott, whose career took a right turn when he underwent shoulder surgery in 2002, is pitching for the independent Fullerton Flyers.
He’s 0-1 with a 1.13 ERA after making his second start Friday, when he pitched five shutout innings against Chico.
Abbott, who pitched for the Devil Rays and Phillies after leaving the Mariners, is hoping to catch the attention of a major league team that may need late-season pitching help.