Seattle Mariners

Mariners manager has to have fun with run of injuries, 'otherwise I get real sad'

Seattle Mariners' Ben Gamel bats during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Seattle Mariners' Ben Gamel bats during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) AP Photo

Scott Servais didn’t need any questions to get into it Tuesday afternoon.

“Injury updates, OK, what do we got?,” Servais started his pre-game chat with reporters.

He didn't wait for a response.

“We got a couple of guys on the DL. We got Nelson Cruz. An ankle injury, and he’s progressing nicely. He hit off the tee and that went well. As we speak (Tuesday afternoon) he’s in the cage taking some more swings.

Check.

“Mike Zunino,” Servais continued, unprompted, talking quite quickly. “Mike Zunino is feeling much better. He’s out playing a little catch today and he was in the cage and hitting off a tee and doing more tomorrow. Mike Zunino is moving along nicely.”

Check.

“Ryon Healy,” Servais continued, still unprompted. “He was seen by Dr. Edward Khalfayan yesterday. It was better than expected. He’s out of his walking boot and walking fine now. He’s not doing any baseball activity, obviously, he’s on the DL, but he’s moving along very nicely.”

Check.

“Ben Gamel …” Servais said before finally pausing in his monologue by laughing.

These are the pre-game customs Servais has become accustomed to in the first week-and-a-half of the season. And really, that extended into spring training and much of last year. He’s about mastered the art of injury updates.

“It’s kind of crazy, but it is what it is,” Servais said. “I’m trying to have a little fun with it because otherwise I get real sad.”

That’s wasn’t even all the updates, though. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (lat strain) will pitch his second rehab start with Triple-A Tacoma in Fresno on Wednesday.

And you know it’s bad when broadcaster Dave Sims is out because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered during a pick-up basketball game in Minnesota.

“He should be OK … no rehab assignment,” Servais deadpanned. “So he’ll be fine there.”

But this Mariners’ prognosis really isn’t as bad as it seems.

Servais said they believe Gamel is ready to return to the Mariners’ outfield by Friday, when the Mariners return to Seattle for a three-game series against the Athletics. Gamel has been out since straining his oblique on March 5 after he hit .275 in 134 games as a rookie last season.

And then Cruz and Zunino he said appear to be on track to return either Saturday or Sunday.

So that’s a combined 75 home runs from last year expected to return by the weekend. Gamel and Zunino haven’t played a game this season, yet, while Cruz slipped on a dugout step in the second game of the season against the Indians, just after hitting his second two-run home run.

Healy hit the 10-day disabled list and is eligible to return to the Mariners’ lineup on April 18 against the defending World Series-champion Astros. Healy sprained his ankle in a post-game workout after their win over the Twins on Saturday.

But in a span of 48 hours he has gone from crutches to walking boot to out of both of those. Servais said it was a Grade 2 high ankle sprain.

“He’s progressing much quicker now that his swelling is out,” Servais said.

So combine him with Cruz, Gamel and Zunino and that’s a combined 100 home runs from last year out of the lineup.

So you can understand why Servais would get sad.

That’s why they had Taylor Motter playing first base on Tuesday, with Daniel Vogelbach at designated hitter. Motter was supposed to start the season with Triple-A Tacoma but he has since played left field, first base and even pitcher since being recalled to Seattle. The Mariners’ game against the Royals on Monday got so out of hand, a 10-0 loss, that Motter was sent in to pitch in the bottom of the eighth just to spare the Mariners’ some arms out of the bullpen.

And the Mariners’ game Sunday against the Twins was re-scheduled to May 14 because of really cold weather. So that saved them a game without all those players, and pushed back their starters. So they still don’t need a fifth starter, which Servais said will be left-hander Ariel Miranda until next week.

Check.

ON TAP

Left-hander James Paxton (0-1, 7.45 ERA) starts in the Mariners’ road finale in Kansas City before the Mariners return to Safeco Field for a three-game series against the Athletics before four home games in their first meeting of the 2018 season against the reigning World Series champion Astros.

The Royals will start left-hander Danny Duffy (0-2, 7.45 ERA).

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
@TJCotterill
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