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June 1, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Cano nearing return but still no timetable

Robinson Cano is close to returning, manager Lloyd McClendon said, but just how close is still to be determined.

Cano missed his fourth straight game because of a bruise on his left hand. That bruise makes it painful for Cano to swing a bat, and McClendon said the Mariners want to make sure Cano returns without any fear of aggravating the injury.

Cano has played at least 159 games in each of the last seven seasons.

“He’s a tough guy, but we’ve got to manage 162 games,” McClendon said. “Not a three-game series or four days. As a former player, I know how painful bone bruises can be and how nagging they can be, and the right thing to do is to get it quieted down so you can proceed and play again. We’re almost there. We’ll see how he is (Monday).”

Cano hasn’t been able to swing a bat while out. He has taken ground balls and worked out, but he won’t start swinging again until the bruise is no longer an issue.

Cano has been available to pinch hit in big situations the last few nights, and McClendon said he’s “getting better.”

Franklin’s struggles: Nick Franklin was out of the starting lineup on Sunday after watching his batting average dip to .128.

Franklin is 0 for his last 14 with nine strikeouts. Since being recalled from Class AAA Tacoma, Franklin has just four hits — all singles — in 31 at-bats. He has walked once while striking out 15 times.

“He just hasn’t had any success,” McClendon said. “We’ve tried to put him in situations where we thought he could be successful. Right now, he’s just in a funk and struggling. He needs to fight his way out of it.”

It’s because of those struggles that McClendon started veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist, and not Franklin, at second in place of the injured Cano.

Walker to make rehab start Tuesday: Taijuan Walker will make his second rehab start Tuesday for Class AAA Tacoma.

Walker hasn’t pitched in the majors this season because of shoulder injuries.

Walker struggled in his first rehab start last week, lasting three innings and giving up four runs. McClendon said after that start that Walker was at least one or two starts away from joining the big league club. He characterized Walker as having a lot of rust that needed to be knocked off before joining the Mariners.

Seager’s numbers could be better: Kyle Seager’s season has produced one of those strange baseball statistics: He has eight home runs at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field this season and none on the road.

Seager had eight home runs at Safeco Field all of last season, and he entered the year having hit 21 more home runs on the road than at home in his career.

When asked about Seager’s power at home, though, McClendon steered the conversation in a slightly different direction.

“My goal is to not see him hit .260,” McClendon said. “I think he’s a .285, a .295 guy who should drive in 85 to 100 runs. That’s what we’re trying to get him to be.”

Seager is hitting .253 this season and has 33 RBIs through 55 games. He is a career .259 hitter.

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