SEATTLE -- The first step shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt took out of the batter's box in the eighth inning on Wednesday night could land him on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

With a runner on first base, nobody out and the Mariners leading the Padres by a run, Betancourt chopped a ball to third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who threw the ball to second for the force on Wladimir Balentien, who took out second baseman David Eckstein with a hard slide.

Betancourt limped to first base, held his right leg and eventually was helped off the field.

"I didn't quite see what happened," manager Don Wakamatsu said after the 4-3 Mariners win. "I turned my heard and then looked up at him and it was was pretty early in his stride down to first base that he was limping.

"It's a low hamstring strain, near his knee. He'll get an MRI tomorrow and have it checked out. We don't know the severity of it, but it looks like he'll miss some time."

Exactly how much time Betancourt misses could be determined by the MRI exam.

There's a strong chance he will go on the 15-day disabled list. In that case, Ronny Cedeno would take over at shortstop. Jose Lopez, who has missed the past six games while attending to his sister's illness and death in Venezuela, rejoined the team late Wednesday afternoon and is expected to be activated prior to Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Padres.

It has been an up-and-down season for Betancourt, a 27-year-old Cuban exile, who went 2-for-3 in Wednesday night's game to raise his batting average to .250. He also excelled on defense.

"Defensively, I thought Yuni played some of the best shortstop he has played all year," said Wakamatsu, who has benched his shortstop several times this season for nonchalant play and over-aggressiveness at the plate.