The Seattle Mariners will be without starting third baseman Kyle Seager when they open their season in Japan next week — and for at least the next six weeks.
Mariners manager Scott Servais announced Monday that Seager will have surgery Tuesday afternoon to repair a tendon in his left hand that was injured while diving for a ball down the line during Friday night’s loss to the Cubs.
Seager is expected to miss the remainder of March and April, but Servais did not have a definitive timetable for his return.
“We’ll find out more when he gets done with the surgery tomorrow, but it’s a tendon issue in his hand, kind of right over his knuckle,” Servais said. “There’s a tendon that slides back and forth, and there’s been some damage in there.
“We’ve talked about, anytime you have an injury in your hand for baseball players, it takes time and you have to be careful coming back. He’s disappointed. He put a lot of work in this offseason, and was feeling good about where he’s at with his spring. But, he’ll be a little late to start his 2019 season.”
Seager has started at third base the past six opening days for the Mariners, dating back to 2013, and said he has never spent time on the injured list — in the majors or minors — since he started his professional career in 2009.
The 31-year-old veteran has spent the past seven full seasons with the Mariners, and has played 1,155 major-league games without sustaining a season-altering injury.
“That’s something that I was proud of, and it sucks,” Seager said. “Anytime you don’t get to go out there with your teammates and your guys and all that stuff, it’s hard.”
Following Friday night’s game — he was removed in the fourth inning — Seager told reporters in the clubhouse he wasn’t overly concerned about the injury.
“I’ve dove for balls I don’t know how many times,” Seager said. “I dove awkwardly, I kind of rolled and landed awkwardly and stuff, but I’ve done that 100 times.
“It was a strange play, and I was out there squeezing the glove. I could still squeeze it. It kind of hurt to open it up. The trainers checked on me. I told them I was fine.”
Seager said it was Jay Bruce and Dee Gordon who eventually prompted him to leave the game during a pitching change. The X-rays Seager had taken over the weekend were negative, but the MRI showed the tendon damage.
“The doctor that I saw on the field, he was a little worried about it obviously,” Seager said. “But he was like, ‘Let’s go see a hand specialist, let’s go get an MRI, let’s get an X-ray, let’s see what’s going on with this thing.’
“So, definitely a little bit worried right out of the gate with that stuff, but it was something I’d done. I’ve felt myself roll on it so many times. It’s kind of like, ‘It’ll be fine, maybe give it a day or two and we’ll be good to go.’ But, the next day it had swollen up pretty big.”
Seager continued to wear a wrap on his left hand Monday, with his middle finger — near where the damaged tendon is located — in a stint. He acknowledged that the injury is frustrating.
“This is our job,” Seager said. “This is part of it, unfortunately. It is what it is. I did have a successful winter, and that doesn’t necessarily take away from that. There’s still things that you can continue to work on when I’m doing this.
“It’s not something I really wanted to happen, but we’ll deal with it and we’ll rehab and get through it.”
With Seager out for an undetermined stretch, Servais said the Mariners will look to Ryon Healy — who has started the past two spring training games at third base — and others to cover the hot corner.
“We have to look and see where we’re at,” Servais said. “Obviously Ryon Healy will play over there. Whoever wins the utility battle will get some time over there.
“We’ll come up with a plan. We’ll have some guys to shoot over there.”
Kristopher Negron and Dylan Moore could potentially see time at third base, though Moore was a late scratch from Monday night’s lineup.
“It may create an opportunity for somebody else to really step up, and take it and run with it,” Servais said. “But, it’s disheartening. It’s tough when you figure he’s your everyday guy, and you fire him in there for 140-150 games. It won’t be quite as many this year.”
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When asked what he wanted to see out of the remainder of camp, Servas had a quick answer — “not the ambulance.”
After a quick exit during Sunday’s split-squad game against the Angels in Tempe, Servais said right-hander Gerson Bautista might be OK.
Bautista appeared to grab at his right pectoral muscle, and left after pitching a third of an inning.
“It’s a crazy report there,” Servais said. “I saw the replay on video and he went down right away. ... I talked to Bautista last night when he came over from Tempe. He said, ‘Ah, I’ll be OK.’ The reports are OK.
“But, he’s going to have to get in a game here before we leave. And we’ve only got a couple days left. We’ll know more after we see how he feels. ... The player sounded optimistic, ‘I’ve had something like this happen before.’ I don’t know if it was a cramp or how serious it was.”
Servais said while watching the replay, he certainly thought Bautista would be ruled out for Japan, but said after speaking with Bautista, there’s a chance he makes the trip.
Servais said right-hander Hunter Strickland (lower back) would play catch Monday, but would not appear in Monday night’s game against the Royals.
“He’s another one that I really want to see in a game here, and then get him in an exhibition game and then have him available for the Oakland series,” Servais said. “But, we’ll see.”
Outfielder Mallex Smith took batting practice Sunday, but whether or not he makes the trip to Japan is still undecided, Servais said.
“It’s up in the air with where we are at there,” he said. “We’ll have discussions with him today and (Tuesday), and see how he feels coming out of BP.”
The Mariners made eight roster moves, trimming their major league camp to 44 players — which includes 34 roster players and 10 non-roster invitees.
Right-hander Erik Swanson, left-hander Justus Sheffield and infielder Shed Long were all optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Right-handed pitchers Jorgan Cavanerio and Justin Dunn, and infielder Evan White, outfielder Kyle Lewis and catcher Joe DeCarlo were all reassigned to minor league camp.
“We’ll keep paring it down based on where we think are headed with the 30 guys that are going over (to Japan),” Servais said. “Of those 30, 28 will officially be put on the roster. We’ll play with 25 in the game.
“We’ve still got time to narrow it down. We have to get to 30, and that’s our focus right now.”