LAA@SEA: Cano singles up the middle, scoring Saunders

SEATTLE -- The Mariners used a different No. 3 hitter for the first time this season Thursday night.

Second baseman Robinson Cano, who had started all 52 of Seattle's games, was scratched a few hours before the series finale against the Angels because he wasn't feeling well.

Right fielder Michael Saunders took his No. 3 spot in the order, while Nick Franklin switched from designated hitter to Cano's second base spot. Meanwhile, rookie outfielder Stefen Romero went from having the night off against right-hander Matt Shoemaker (2-1, 3.18 ERA) to DHing and batting sixth.

Cano entered Thursday tied for first in the Major Leagues with 22 multi-hit games. In his last 16 games, he's hitting .409 (27-for-66). He has posted a .327/.371/.420 slash line with 11 doubles, two home runs and 31 RBIs in his first season with the Mariners since signing a 10-year, $240 million contract last December.

Prior to Thursday, Cano had played in 1,172 out of a possible 1,186 games since 2007, the most of any player in baseball during that stretch.

Walker to continue rehab stint, working off rust

HOU@SEA: Walker fans eight over five solid frames

SEATTLE -- Rehabbing pitcher Taijuan Walker (right shoulder impingement) will make at least one or two more starts with Triple-A Tacoma before the Mariners consider recalling him to the Major Leagues, manager Lloyd McClendon said Thursday.

The right-hander, ranked the No. 5 prospect in baseball by MLB.com, was roughed up Wednesday in his first rehab start with the Rainiers, allowing four runs on five hits in three innings. He fanned three and didn't walk anybody, but gave up back-to-back home runs in his final frame.

"His stuff is good, but he's rusty. It's going to take time," McClendon said. "He didn't have much of a Spring Training … it's going to take some time to get the rust off. I think the worst thing we can do is probably rush this young man back."

Walker, 21, has dealt with a pair of injuries to his throwing shoulder -- albeit minor -- dating back to Spring Training. On Feb. 28, he was diagnosed with inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder. He rehabbed and made two Minor League starts in early April -- one for Class A High Desert, one for Double-A Jackson -- before he was scratched from an April 15 rehab start with the Rainiers. That landed him on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder impingement.

On Wednesday, Walker threw 61 pitches, then 14 more in the bullpen to build his endurance.

"It's sore," Walker said of his shoulder. "But it's sore in the right spots. It's nothing bad. I feel like I pitched yesterday."

Walker said he'll throw a bullpen Friday and that he's working on a five-day schedule.

McClendon said it's going to "take a little time" before Walker joins the team. The rookie went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA last season after a callup in late August.

"If he was healthy in Spring Training, he had to make the club. Nothing was given," McClendon said. "I think we're under the assumption now that he was given spot on this club and that's just not the case. He would still have to compete for a spot."

"Believe me, I want him here, but he's got to prove that he's healthy and he [has to] get the rust off, and he's got to be ready to compete at this level on a consistent basis," McClendon said.

McClendon eager to face former club when Tigers visit

LAA@SEA: McClendon evaluates team after 50 games

SEATTLE -- When the Mariners host the Tigers for a three-game series this weekend, it will mark the first time Lloyd McClendon faces his former team as Seattle's manager after spending 2006 as Detroit's bullpen coach and 2007-13 as its hitting coach.

Last October, McClendon interviewed to replace retiring manager Jim Leyland, but the club ended up hiring Brad Ausmus.

"It'll be fun to see a lot of friends and a lot of people I consider family," McClendon said. "That's always going to be special. I'm excited about that but I'm going to be trying to kick their [butt]."

McClendon said he had a "wonderful" eight years in Detroit and described the organization as "tremendous."

How's he going to pitch Miguel Cabrera?

"Very carefully," he said.

Worth noting

• Entering Thursday, Mike Zunino was leading American League catchers with seven home runs after going 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs in Wednesday night's win over the Angels.

• Rookie Dominic Leone began Thursday with the fifth-best ERA (1.29) among AL relievers.