DETROIT — If all goes according to plan, Adrian Sampson’s next start will come at Triple-A Tacoma. The best-case scenario is that it will be next week. If not, then when he comes off the disabled list.
Sampson exited his start Thursday before he actually delivered a pitch after experiencing discomfort in his elbow while warming up in the first inning. Vidal Nuno replaced Sampson as the starting pitcher.
"I felt pretty good in the bullpen," Sampson said. "I threw about 35 pitches. Toward the end of it, I felt a little tired. I thought it was just normal fatigue from throwing 35 pitches in a row.
"When I warmed up again, I felt a little elbow discomfort in the right side. There was no pop or anything. There was just a little discomfort. I felt it was best to just come out of the game."
It’s too early to say whether Sampson will require time on the disabled list, but the Mariners expect Wade Miley and Taijuan Walker to rejoin the rotation next week during the upcoming homestand.
That figures to squeeze Sampson, injured or not, out of the rotation.
"We’re trying to line it up," manager Scott Servais said prior to Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Tigers in 10 innings. "We’ll probably know (Friday) what we’re looking at."
Translated that suggests Servais, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and others want to get a first-hand look at Miley and Walker prior to Friday’s game at Safeco Field before firming up a plan.
Walker and Miley each returned earlier this week to Seattle for evaluation and treatment while the Mariners wobbled through their four-game series against Detroit.
Miley is recovering from a sore shoulder — an impingement — but is eligible to return Tuesday from the disabled list. Walker is battling tendinitis in his right foot, which forced an early exit in his last two starts.
The Mariners are also skipping Walker in his regular turn Friday in their series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. Servais said Miley "will be ready," but he wants a closer look at Walker.
The tentative plan is to activate Miley from the disabled list in order to start Wednesday against Pittsburgh. If Walker is green-lighted, he’ll start Thursday against Baltimore.
Sampson was 7-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts at Tacoma prior to his June 18 promotion to replace Miley in the rotation. He gave up four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings last Saturday in 6-2 loss at Boston.
ROSTER MOVE(S) COMING
The Mariners will add veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc to their roster Friday, and he will start that night in place of Walker in the series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Safeco Field.
LeBlanc, 31, is a seven-year veteran whom the Mariners acquired late Tuesday from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash or a player to be named later. He was 7-2 with a 1.71 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Buffalo.
The Mariners had planned to clear space for LeBlanc on their 25-man roster by optioning right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen to Triple-A Tacoma. They placed Wilhelmsen on optional waivers Wednesday after signing him to a one-year deal.
The waiver period expires Friday. Since optional waivers are revokable, rival clubs rarely claim a player from that list.
But after burning their their bullpen in Thursday’s loss, the Mariners might choose to retain Wilhelmsen and create space for LeBlanc through another move — possibly by placing Sampson on the disabled list.
The Mariners gained an opening Thursday for LeBlanc on their 40-man roster when Triple-A Tacoma outfielder Boog Powell received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
LeBlanc is 21-33 with a 4.47 in 107 big-league games, including 71 starts, over parts of seven seasons with five clubs. He pitched last year for the Seibu in Japan’s Pacific League before signing a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays.
***The Mariners are also pondering moves to bolster a bullpen that is again fatigued after working all 9 2/3 innings in Thursday’s loss to the Tigers.
Center fielder Brayan Hernandez continued his hot start Wednesday in the Dominican Summer League by going 2-for-5 with double and two RBIs in an 8-2 loss to the Cubs2 club.
Hernandez, 18, is batting .348 (23-for-66) with four doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs through 15 games. He also has a .377 on-base percentage and a .621 slugging percentage.
The Mariners signed Hernandez, a Venezuelan native, for $1.85 million in July 2014. He entered the season cited on the TNT Watch List and ranked as the organization’s No. 16 prospect by Baseball America.
Lo-A Clinton has a new pitching coach as it opens its second-half season in the Midwest League
The Mariners hired Pete Woodworth, who joined the LumberKings as a replacement for Rich Dorman prior to Thursday’s game against Kane County (Diamondbacks).
Woodworth, 27, spent the last two years as the pitching coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, his alma mater. He played one professional season in the Tampa Bay system prior to starting his coaching career.
Dorman, 37, left to accept a coaching position at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. He spent seven-plus seasons as a minor-league coach in Mariners’ organization following a nine-year professional career.
It was 19 years ago Friday — June 24, 1997 — that Randy Johnson set an American League record for strikeouts by a left-hander when he got 19 in a 4-1 loss to Oakland at the Kingdome. Johnson threw 142 pitches in the game.
The Big Unit had shared the previous record of 18 strikeouts with Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees. Johnson had 18 over eight innings on Sept. 27, 1992 in a 3-2 loss to Texas. Guidry struck out 18 in a 1978 victory over the Angels.
Johnson then matched his record of 19 less than two months later — Aug. 8, 1997 — in a 5-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox at the Kingdome. He remains the only AL lefty to record 19 strikeouts in a game.
The Mariners open a challenging nine-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. Friday when St. Louis returns to Safeco Field for the first time in 14 years for a three-game weekend series.
Just-acquired lefty Wade LeBlanc (0-0, with an 0.00 ERA) will start against Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez (7-5 and 3.27). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners