SD@SEA: Morse smashes a three-run homer in the first

BOSTON -- Right fielder Michael Morse returned from a five-week stint on the disabled list Tuesday, eager to rejoin a Mariners club that has caught fire in July.

Morse was immediately penciled into the starting lineup in right field and sixth in the batting order for the series opener against the Red Sox.

"I feel good. I feel healthy. I'm ready to go," Morse said. "It's good to be back. The guys have been playing great, it's been fun to watch, and now I get a chance to be part of it."

The Mariners went 18-13 during Morse's stint on the DL after he finally succumbed to a strained right quadriceps muscle that had been hindering him for several weeks. The big slugger also played through a broken finger earlier in the season that slowed him after a hot start in April, when he had nine home runs by May 1.

Morse hit just two home runs in his next 31 games, however, putting him at .251 with 11 home runs and 23 RBIs in 56 games going into Tuesday's return.

"It's been a tough season," he said. "I had a couple injuries here and there, the finger and now this quad. But that's the season. Everybody plays with some injuries and stuff. I'm healthy now. I've got two more months to help out the team. My goal now is to try to help the team win as many ballgames as possible."

Morse hit .250 (6-for-24) in six rehab games with Triple-A Tacoma with a double, triple, home run and two RBIs. He said his leg has felt fine since he joined the Rainiers and it's just been a matter of regaining his timing.

"I feel good. Baseball-wise, I feel great," he said. "No rust. We've been playing this game since we were kids. I don't even think about it. My leg has felt good for a while now. I was just down there to play a little baseball."

Acting manager Robby Thompson said Morse will play right field as well as a little first base and possibly some designated hitter as he works his way back in. The Mariners designated Jason Bay for assignment on Monday to open a roster spot, but still have a logjam of outfielders with Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Raul Ibanez and Endy Chavez all vying for time as well.

How will that juggling act play out?

"We're about to find out," Thompson said. "We'll go with matchups and who has the hot hand. Obviously Morse is going to have to get back in there and play on pretty much a consistent basis to get him going again. We'll do what we can to make it work."

Maurer adjusting to role as long man in bullpen

LAA@SEA: Maurer shuts down Angels, fans six

BOSTON -- Brandon Maurer has been a starter most of his career. But then again, his career hasn't been that long, so the 23-year-old is adjusting to his new role after being recalled by the Mariners last weekend.

The big right-hander made his first Major League relief appearance in Tuesday's 8-2 loss to the Red Sox, throwing 2 1/3 innings of perfect ball until Boston nicked him for two runs on a single and home run by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the eighth. Maurer finished up with just those two hits and two runs in three innings.

"That was big for Maurer, his first time coming out of the 'pen here in Boston of all places," said acting manager Robby Thompson. "I thought he threw the ball very well. I thought it was big for him and for us. It's not easy your first time coming out here in Boston, and I thought he did a great job."

Maurer replaced Hector Noesi as Seattle's long reliever on Saturday and has begun adjusting to a new routine.

"I'm just going to go out there and throw all my pitches and go right after hitters," said Maurer, who started 10 games for Seattle at the start of the season before being sent to Triple-A Tacoma. "I don't have to worry about the next at-bat, just go get 'em right out of the gate."

Maurer said the only time he's been a reliever was in 2010, when he was sidelined by elbow tendinitis during the season and then came back and pitched a couple of games out of the bullpen with Class A Clinton at the end of that season.

"So far, it's been all right," he said prior to Tuesday's relief debut. "We're just trying to keep it as basic as we can, just do the work when we can. And if we can't, we'll get it the next day. I'm just trying to stay fresh."

Thompson said one of the advantages of having the youngster working out of the bullpen is the ability to control his innings. Maurer threw 46 2/3 innings in 10 starts at Tacoma, putting him at 96 for the season combined with his Seattle outings.

He threw a career-high 137 2/3 innings last year for Double-A Jackson. But most important, Thompson said, is getting Maurer more experience at the Major League level.

"He's kind of our long guy right now, so talking with [pitching coach Carl Willis], we'll try to ease him back in," Thompson said. "He's been starting and we all feel it's probably going to be good for him to work out of the bullpen. There's been a lot of guys in the big leagues that have worked their way through the bullpen into a starting role. That's kind of the avenue we're taking right now."

Franklin's impressive rookie season continues

MIN@SEA: Franklin cranks out a pair of home runs

BOSTON -- Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin continues putting together an impressive rookie campaign, capped by a two-homer day in Sunday's 6-4 win over the Twins.

Going into Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox, Franklin was tied with Daniel Murphy of the Mets for the Major League lead in RBIs since the All-Star break with 13 in 10 games.

Murphy had played two more games than Franklin, who topped all American League players in that category, one ahead of Michael Bourn of the Indians, Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays and Wil Myers of the Rays.

Though Franklin wasn't called up until May 27, he already has posted a pair of two-homer games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he and Michael Young (2001 with the Rangers) are the only second basemen in the last 48 years to have a pair of multiple home run games in their rookie seasons.

The last second baseman to do that before Young was Houston's Joe Morgan in 1965.

In his first 52 games in the Majors, Franklin hit .277 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs and his .492 slugging percentage is second on the team behind Raul Ibanez's .535.

Worth noting

• The Mariners were 0-5-2 in their first seven series as they got off to a rough April, but things have turned around of late, as they're 5-1-1 in their last seven series.

• Seattle is 27-17 in games started by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, compared to 23-38 in games started by everyone else. Hernandez and Iwakuma will be on the mound for the final two games of the Red Sox series.

• Franklin Gutierrez went 2-for-5 with a double in Tacoma's 7-6 loss at Reno on Monday and is batting .225 in 31 rehab games with the Triple-A club. Hector Noesi gave up nine hits and four runs in five innings in his first start since being sent down, but took a no-decision.