BALTIMORE — Corey Hart’s rocky comeback season hit another bump Saturday when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a bruised right knee.
Don’t look for a quick return.
“I know we’ve only got two months left,” he said, “so I would love to make sure I get back and be competitive for the last month. But I want to be competitive. I don’t want to come back and be doing what I’ve been doing.”
The move permitted the Mariners to clear space on their 25-man roster to activate left-hander James Paxton from the 60-day disabled list. Paxton started Saturday night’s game against Baltimore at Camden Yards.
The Mariners also cleared space for Paxton on their 40-man organizational roster by outrighting right-hander Blake Beavan to Triple-A Tacoma after he cleared waivers.
Hart’s injury came four weeks after he returned to active duty after missing more than six weeks because of a strained left hamstring. It occurred when he slammed into the right-field wall a few days ago in Cleveland.
“When he went after that ball,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “it scared me. He took an awkward fall. He didn’t say anything about it until (Friday) night.”
Hart admitted he tried to play through the injury.
“I probably shouldn’t have played (Friday),” he said, “but I was still trying to find it.”
The Mariners signed Hart, 32, as a free agent in December to a one-year deal for $6 million in the hope he could regain his form after missing all of last season because of surgeries on both knees.
It hasn’t happened.
Hart is batting just .203 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 207 at-bats over 57 games. He batted .191 (13-for-68) with no homers and three RBIs in 21 games after returning from his hamstring injury.
“I just came back too quick and tried to overdo it,” he said. “Playing the field kind of made it worse for me. DHing is OK. I don’t have to run around too much.
“But in the outfield, doing a lot of stuff, was just a little too much. I tried to act like it wasn’t, but it just was.”
Beavan, 25, is also laboring through an injury-filled season. He began the season at Tacoma before getting recalled for an April 15 start at Texas. He lasted four innings because of shoulder soreness.
The injury was later diagnosed as tendinitis and prevented him from returning to the mound until a July 14 rehab start at Hi-A High Desert. He was activated July 25 and optioned to Tacoma.
Beavan is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA in seven appearances, including two starts, for the Rainiers.
By placing Hart on the disabled list, the move to activate Paxton leaves the Mariners with a three-man bench while maintaining an eight-man bullpen.
That bullpen has been a strength; its 2.37 ERA entering Saturday was more than one-half of a run better than any other American League club.
“We get an opportunity to keep it intact,” McClendon said. “I don’t know how long that’s going to last.”
McClendon cited a reluctance to play interleague road games with a three-man bench, but the Mariners don’t have to worry about that for another two-plus weeks — a July 18-20 trip to Philadelphia.
Slow to mend
Veteran utilityman Willie Bloomquist might need more than 15 days to recover from a bruised right knee suffered July 23 when he landed awkwardly after crossing first base while running out a grounder.
“His progress,” McClendon said, “is not happening as quickly as we initially thought.”
Bloomquist is eligible to return Friday. He is batting .278 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 47 games. His absence means Chris Taylor and Brad Miller will continue to share shortstop/utilityman duties.
Catcher Mike Zunino has more extra-base hits (34) than singles (31)…The Mariners’ 3.06 ERA is the best in the majors and puts them on pace to shatter the franchise record of 3.54 in 2001…The Mariners are also last among AL clubs in runs per game at 3.81 and have scored two runs or fewer in 41 of their 109 games. They are 5-36 in those 41 games…Robinson Cano has already matched a career high with eight steals. He previously had eight in 2011…The Mariners and Dodgers are the only teams this season without a grand slam.
It was 19 years ago Sunday — Aug. 3, 1995 — that Mikes Blowers hit his four career grand slam in a 10-7 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. It came in the seventh inning against reliever Mike Butcher.
Norm Charlton pitched the ninth inning for his first save since returning to the Mariners as a feee agent after being released by Philadelphia. He had 48 saves for the Mariners through 1997 before opting to become a free agent.
The Mariners and Orioles conclude their three-game weekend series at 10:35 a.m. Pacific time Sunday at Camden Yards.
Right-handed Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5 with a 3.06 ERA) will oppose Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman (7-5 and 3.97). Root Sports will broadcast the game.
The Mariners have an open date Monday before starting a nine-game homestand that consists of two games against Atlanta, four games against the Chicago White Sox and three games against Toronto.