Mariners getting healthy, expect Cruz back against A’s

The Seattle Mariners finally got some good news on the injury front.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz took batting practice and ran the bases Friday when the Mariners returned home from a seven-game trip. Cruz seems on track to be activated from the 10-day disabled list before Saturday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.

Cruz hit home runs in the first two games of the season. He suffered a freak injury after hitting the second homer, twisting his right ankle on the bottom step of the dugout as he went to put his batting helmet and gear away.

That forced him to watch the team on TV the past week.

“I was going crazy,” he told MLB.com. “A lot of cussing at umpires and plays, turning off the TV like an old guy.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais said he got a phone call Friday morning from Cruz.

“He let me know where he was at,” said Servais, “and very sternly said he was ready to go.”

The Mariners also got positive reports on two other starters on the DL, catcher Mike Zunino and first baseman Ryon Healy.

Zunino caught left-hander James Paxton’s pregame workout Friday and also took some swings in the batting cage. Zunino suffered a strained right oblique while taking batting practice the day before the season opener. The Mariners hope he can return by the end of the seven-game homestand.

Healy, who sprained his right ankle in the weight room last Saturday in Minnesota, took some grounders Friday and also got some swings in the batting cage.

“I’m excited at some point, hopefully here, maybe by the end of this homestand, we’ll be close to getting our full squad of the position group out there,” Servais said.

The Mariners had hoped outfielder Ben Gamel would be back Friday night for the series opener, when the team handed out Gamel hats — complete with flowing blonde locks — to fans, but it was determined he needed to spend more time on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Tacoma for his strained right oblique.

“With Ben, we were optimistic he might be back here this weekend, but as we started playing him a lot, we realized he needed to catch his wind a little,” Servais said. “He is physically ready to go, we just want to give him at-bats. He did not have spring training.”

The A’s might also make a roster move Saturday, as right-hander Ryan Dull, who missed most of the spring with shoulder soreness, is set to come off the disabled list. Fellow reliever Liam Hendriks left in the eighth inning of Friday’s 7-4 loss with a leg injury and his status is to be determined.

The Mariners, who have won three games in a row, are scheduled to face Oakland right-hander Kendall Graveman (0-2, 9.45 ERA) on Saturday. Graveman lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his last start, a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, giving up five runs on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Graveman is 1-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 10 career appearances against Seattle, including eight starts.

He’ll oppose Seattle left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-1, 7.27 ERA). Gonzales gave up four runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings in his last start, a 10-0 defeat at Kansas City. He has just one career relief appearance against the A’s, pitching four scoreless innings in 2017 and giving up two hits and striking out five.

Khris Davis hit two homers for the A’s in Friday’s game, but the Oakland bullpen failed to hold the 3-2 lead the A’s had after six innings in a 7-4 Seattle victory.

“We felt good with the guys we brought in the game,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Just couldn’t close it out.”