SEATTLE MARINERS

Mariners recall Mike Zunino, Nori Aoki as Felix Hernandez returns

Jul 20, 2016, 10:16 AM | Updated: 10:24 am

Outfielder Nori Aoki is back with the Mariners after hitting .369 during a 16-game stint with Tacom...

Outfielder Nori Aoki is back with the Mariners after hitting .369 during a 16-game stint with Tacoma. (AP)

(AP)

LISTEN: Scott Servais on Felix Hernandez returning to the Mariners

The Mariners made a handful of roster moves this morning in addition to activating ace pitcher Felix Hernandez from the 15-day disabled list, also recalling catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Nori Aoki from Triple-A Tacoma.

The corresponding moves were to option reliever David Rollins, outfielder Daniel Robertson and catcher Jesus Sucre to Tacoma.

Hernandez is set to pitch this afternoon against Chicago (12:40 on 710 ESPN Seattle), which will mark his first start since he sustained a calf strain on May 27.

“It means everything to us,” manager Scott Servais told “Brock and Salk” this morning when asked about getting Hernandez back from his injury. “Obviously, it’s been a crazy season for us. Those of you who have followed us closely, it’s been a roller-coaster ride and the tailspin, we started to go down a little bit obviously right around the time that Felix went down. So the value of starting pitching and running that guy out there every fifth day and knowing what you’re going to get, and more importantly, the competitiveness and what he brings to our club.”

General manager Jerry Dipoto said recently that Zunino and Aoki would be back with the big-league club sooner rather than later, so the decision to recall them was not unexpected.

Zunino appeared in two games with the Mariners earlier this month, hitting a pair of home runs before he was optioned back to Tacoma in order to ensure that he could still see regular playing time.

Aoki was optioned to Tacoma on June 24, when the Mariners needed an extra arm in the bullpen and wanted the 34-year-old to work out the issues he has been having against left-handers. Aoki was hitting a career-low .245 when he was sent down and hit .369 in 16 games with Tacoma.

“Aoki has been down for a few weeks. Hopefully he can spark us a little bit, just do what he does, get on base, slap the ball around, create a little energy,” Servais said. “We face a right-hander today, so it’s a good chance to get him in there.”

Miguel Gonzalez is pitching for the White Sox in the rubber match of the three-game series. Servais said shortstop Ketel Marte will be out of the Mariners’ lineup again due to an illness. He called it a “really bad cold virus.”

“He had a high temperature that came in yesterday,” Servais said. “He’s actually down about five or six pounds, feeling terrible. We do have him on some antibiotics, got some IV fluids in him. He’ll be at the ballpark today. He’s not going to be in the lineup today, but he will travel with us tonight over to Toronto and hopefully he’ll be OK when he gets over there.”

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