Relief pitcher Rafael Soriano threw off the mound Friday afternoon and had no problems as he comes back from a sprained right elbow that has kept him on the disabled list since May 12.
Soriano threw 51 pitches Friday and probably will throw two more times before he makes a rehab appearance in a minor league game, manager Bob Melvin said.
“He threw all of his pitches, including some easy sliders and everything is good,” Melvin said. “The ball is jumping out of his hand very nicely.”
Melvin said he isn’t concerned with Soriano’s velocity at this point in his recovery.
“We’re not going to take a (radar) gun out there,” Melvin said. “Until he goes somewhere and pitches in a game, that’s not a concern at all.”
Villone to start: Left-hander Ron Villone, who has spent most of this season in the Mariners’ bullpen, will start Monday night’s game against the Red Sox. It’s doubtful, however, that Villone will retain the fifth-starter’s role for long.
Villone, who also started June 26 against the Padres, has pitched well in 33 relief appearances and Melvin is reluctant to pull him from that role permanently. Villone, 3-2 with a 2.87 ERA, also has drawn the interest of other teams as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
“It’s tough to take him out of the role he’s in because he’s been so successful,” Melvin said. “He can match up (against left-handed hitters) for us, he can pitch long for us, he does a lot of things and is very flexible.”
The Mariners also hope to give some of their Class AAA pitchers, namely Clint Nageotte and Bobby Madritsch, opportunities at the major league level this season.
Around the horn: Barring injury or roster change, the Mariners will operate primarily with an infield of Scott Spiezio at first base, Bret Boone at second, Willie Bloomquist at shortstop and Justin Leone at third.
Melvin said Spiezio, who played third base most of the first half, would get 90 percent of his playing time at first base now that John Olerud is gone.
Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer