Seattle Mariners

Robinson Cano breaks hand after cringing hit-by-pitch. Surgery likely. So now what for Mariners?

Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano (22) reacts after being hit on the hand by a Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Blaine Hardy pitch in the third inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Sunday, May 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano (22) reacts after being hit on the hand by a Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Blaine Hardy pitch in the third inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Sunday, May 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Robinson Cano left Sunday’s game and it’s likely he could spend at least a month on the disabled list.

He fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand. That's the bone connecting his pinky finger and he'll likely need surgery.

That's not good.

And it didn’t look good.

Cano tried to get out of the way of an inside 88-mph fastball from Detroit Tigers starter Blaine Hardy, a graduate of Edmonds-Woodway High School, when the pitch hit off of the back of Cano’s hand.

It sounded like he yelled in pain, and he clearly was. Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais and a trainer exited the dugout to help him before they eventually aided Cano off of the field.

"I knew it right away," Cano told reporters afterward.

He said he hadn't been told of the severity of the injury, but he will fly to Philadelphia to see a hand specialist on Tuesday morning.

"It's broken," Cano said. "And it's broken bad. Just have to wait until I hear what the specialist says and if I need surgery."

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Andrew Romine replaced him.

Cano was later shown in the dugout with his hand wrapped in a cast. It wasn't immediately clear how much time he'd have to miss, but the disabled list is certain.

"I'll talk to Jerry (Dipoto) and the guys later today and we'll see where we're headed," Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters afterward. "He'll probably be out for a little while. But our lineup is deep enough to absorb losing Robby for a period of time, but we'll need other guys to step up."

Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner has been on the DL since the beginning of the season with the same injury. The Pirates' Josh Harrison missed six weeks because of the same injury suffered during spring training (also after being hit by a pitch).

So it could take more than a month before Cano returns.

The team hadn't officially announced a timetable for his return.

Dee Gordon won a Gold Glove at second base with the Miami Marlins in 2015 and Servais said that moving him back to second base was not an option.

"No, not at this point," Servais said. "We'll have to wait and see what's best for the ball club and see how long Robby is actually out. And we'll make a decision from there. We'll look at internal options at second base and we'll go from there."

Cano went more than 10 years between stints on the disabled list when the Mariners placed him on the 10-day DL because of a strained right quad muscle last May. Before that? He last had to go to the DL for just over a month in 2006 with a strained left hamstring while playing for the Yankees.

Cano is a bit of an iron man. Since his major-league debut in May 2005, Robinson Cano has played in 2,035 games – more than any player in that span – just ahead of his sort-of teammate Ichiro Suzuki (2,017) and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (2,005), who is currently on the disabled list.

"You go wherever God sends you. It could have been something worse," Cano said. "But you just got to take your time and recover 100 percent and come back to play the game.

"It's going to be tough, but the last thing I can do is put my head down and think about that. I have to go do the surgery, get the rehab and come back stronger."

Cano is batting .287 and hit a three-run home run late in the Mariners’ win in the second game of the double-header over the Tigers on Saturday.

So what are their options?

Like Servais mentioned, he seemed to put the kibosh on moving Gordon back to his natural position in the infield.

Why?

Because the Mariners committed in the offseason to turning him into a center fielder and moving him back could hinder his development in the outfield. If they did, they could then play both Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia in the outfield at the same time instead of platooning them in left field.

The Mariners do have some utility options.

They could plug Romine there like they did for the remainder of Sunday's game, but his bat doesn't suggest he's an every day player for that. They could recall utility player Taylor Motter from Triple-A Tacoma, but same deal for him.

So maybe that means a spot for 31-year-old Gordon Beckham?

Beckham has been batting .300/.412/.500 for Tacoma and he has a hit in all but six of the 25 games he's played so far. But even better is that he has big-league experience at second base, starting there regularly for the Chicago White Sox from 2010-14.

If they wanted to look outside the organization, which they indicated they wouldn't, 36-year-old Brandon Phillips is still a free agent. Phillips is a three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner who hit .285 in 144 games last season between the Braves and Angels.

The problem — none of them are Cano.

"You can't replace that guy," Mariners pitcher James Paxton said. "But we have a good team here and a good lineup and we have some guys stepping up and playing well right now. We should be just fine."

On tap

The Mariners head to Minnesota for one game.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (0-0, 3.18 ERA) will make his third start since starting the season in the bullpen and he'll go against Twins left-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.83 ERA). The game will start at 4:10 p.m. and will televised on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM radio.

This is a makeup for the snow-out (cold-out?) game that was postponed there last month.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677; @TJCotterill
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