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Notebook: Mariners eye Friday returns for Nelson Cruz, Ben Gamel

Nelson Cruz could return from the disabled list for the Mariners' series against Oakland Friday. (AP)

The Mariners may now be without their starting first baseman, but the good news is it appears they could have three starting position players back by next week.

Table Setter: Pivotal week ahead for M’s team teetering on good start

Manager Scott Servais said before Monday’s series opener in Kansas City that the Mariners hope to have All-Star designated hitter Nelson Cruz and left fielder Ben Gamel back for their homestand that begins Friday against Oakland. Catcher Mike Zunino may not be far behind, either.

“We’re hopeful that Nelson Cruz comes back maybe on Friday, Gamel around in that area as well,” Servais said. “Zunino, if not Friday, maybe (he will return) somewhere later in the weekend or early the following week.”

Cruz has been on the 10-day disabled list nursing a sprained ankle he suffered behind the Mariners’ dugout during the second game of the season March 31.

Gamel, who suffered an oblique strain in early March, has been on a rehab assignment with Mariners minor league affiliates the last week.

Zunino himself suffered a more minor oblique strain the day before the Mariners’ season opener. Servais indicated he may go on a rehab assignment before returning to the Mariners.

As for the Mariners’ injured starting first baseman Ryon Healy, who suffered an ankle sprain after Saturday’s win over the Twins, he has returned to Seattle to go over results of an MRI taken in Minnesota with team physician Dr. Edward Khalfayan.

Notes

• With Sunday’s series finale with the Twins postponed to May 14, the Mariners will be able to continue with just four starting pitchers for another round of the rotation. Servais said Ariel Miranda is still in line to be the fifth starter when the Mariners need one, which at this point would be Tuesday, April 17 against Houston.

• Erasmo Ramirez, who is set to be the Mariners’ fifth starter when healthy and rehabbed from a lat strain suffered early in spring training, will spend some time building up his pitch count before rejoining to the Mariners. “I want him to have a full, kind of normal spring training progression,” Servais said.