Paxton activated; Hernandez, Haniger progressing

Miami Marlins v Seattle Mariners

SAFECO FIELD -- It's been a long slog through a myriad of injuries for the Seattle Mariners but it appears the team is closing in on getting several key members back on the roster.

The most notable is the return of James Paxton to the mound Wednesday night.

Paxton was activated off the disabled list after missing the last 24 games with a left forearm strain. Paxton's last start came against the Los Angeles Angels on May 2. He felt continued discomfort in his forearm while throwing in between starts and was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 5. He's missed five starts while on the disabled list.

"He's worked his tail off to get back," manager Scott Servais said.

Paxton threw just one rehab start before returning to the rotation. He'll be on a limited pitch count in his first start against the Colorado Rockies tonight.

The Mariners optioned Ryne Harper to Triple-A Tacoma to clear space on the roster for Paxton's return.

Additionally, Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger are both within sight of heading out on rehab assignments as well.

Hernandez and Haniger have both been on the disabled list since April 26. Hernandez was dealing with right shoulder inflammation while Haniger sustained a right oblique strain.

Hernandez tossed a bullpen in Denver on Tuesday and it went really well, according to Servais.

"Better than I was expecting," Servais said. "He did throw all of his pitches, it wasn't just fastball, changeup. ... Mel (Stottlemyre) said it looked great. Very good report there."

Hernandez is scheduled to throw a simulated game either Friday or Saturday, which would be the final precursor to a rehab assignment. Servais indicated Hernandez would likely need at least two rehab starts before returning to the rotation.

Haniger is expected to take batting practice later this week through the weekend. He could go out on a rehab assignment as soon as Monday if all goes well.

"I think he was really amped up about 10-12 days ago," Servais said. "When you have that little setback there it does get kind of frustrating but he continues to work his tail off. He's the first guy in here every day. He's very structured and I think understanding that more isn't always better and trying to work a littler smarter here the last five or six days."

Hisashi Iwakuma also threw a bullpen in Denver yesterday but he seems to be a little behind Hernandez's timeline.

Nelson Cruz is also back in the lineup a night after coming out of a game due to a sore calf in Colorado.

Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - APRIL 19: Starter Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle  Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Miami Marlins at  Safeco Field on April 19, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won  10-5. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

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