More than once during the most recent homestand, Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais quipped if someone needed to speak to a players, check the training room.
On Friday, the Mariners added another player to the 10-day injured list in center fielder Mitch Haniger, who left midway through Thursday’s extra-innings loss to the Houston Astros with a ruptured testicle.
Recently acquired outfielder Mac Williamson pinch-hit for Haniger in the seventh inning. Haniger was initially diagnosed with a lower body contusion.
“He took a pretty hard shot,” Servais said Thursday.
Haniger struck out twice before exiting, and entered Friday as the MLB leader with 81 strikeouts this season. He was slashing at .220/.314/.463 with 13 doubles, 15 home runs and 32 RBIs in 63 games. He is one of nine players who have appeared for the Mariners this season currently on the IL, and the club’s second player in two weeks who was injured during a plate appearance.
Outfielder Braden Bishop exited Tuesday’s game with cramping, and was later hospitalized with a lacerated spleen, though he has since been released. He was hit by a pitch while still playing with Triple-A Tacoma last week, and doctors eventually determined the injury was related to that incident.
With both Bishop and Haniger out for an undetermined amount of time after undergoing surgical procedures, Williamson, who was signed by the Mariners earlier in the week after parting ways with the San Francisco Giants, could move into a regular role in Seattle’s outfield. He hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat with Seattle on Wednesday.
Seattle had recently shifted its outfield alignment, moving Haniger to center from right, Mallex Smith to left from center, and Domingo Santana to right from left, in search of defensive improvements. With Haniger now on the IL, Smith moved back to center for Friday’s game and Williamson, who has played left and right field in parts of five MLB seasons, started in left field.
Help could be on the way with two starters getting close to coming off the IL.
Second baseman Dee Gordon (wrist) joined Tacoma on Friday for a rehab assignment, while shortstop J.P. Crawford (ankle) is expected to join High-A Modesto next week. First baseman Ryon Healy (back) will not begin a rehab assignment yet, and will have more tests done.
Closer Hunter Strickland (lat) and starter Felix Hernandez (lat) have each thrown two bullpen sessions and will move to live BP on Sunday with Tacoma while the Mariners are on the road. Relievers Connor Sadzeck (elbow) and Chasen Bradford (elbow) are further out from resuming normal throwing activities.
Relievers Sam Tuivailala (Achilles) and Arodys Vizcaino (elbow) are also on the IL, but neither have pitched for the Mariners this season. Tuivailala, while healthy from rehabbing his Achilles, is still working to get his pitching arm back in form, and will throw an extended bullpen Sunday. Vizcaino, recently acquired in a trade with the Braves, is expected to miss the entire season.
SCOTT COULD MAKE HISTORY
Right-handed reliever Tayler Scott was selected from Triple-A in a corresponding move with Haniger’s injury, and will make his MLB debut in his first appearance.
He is a Johannesburg, South Africa native, and will become the first player born there to pitch in the majors, and second player ever to appear, when he debuts. Gift Ngoepe, an infielder currently in Philadelphia’s minor-league system, was the first South African-born player to ever debut in the majors with Pittsburgh. in 2017. He has also played for Toronto.
Scott is 3-2 with a 5.88 ERA and one save in 19 relief appearances with the Rainiers this season. He has recorded 44 strikeouts and 19 walks in 33 2/3 innings. Since May 3, he has a 1.83 ERA in 19 2/3 innings.
Earlier this season, Scott said he discovered baseball when he was about 10 years old. He played cricket, rugby and soccer growing up, but decided to shift his focus mainly to baseball as a teenager.
“I started getting pretty good at it, and I realized that’s where I wanted to be, and come be in America and play,” Scott said.
He arrived in the United States when he was 16, and played high school baseball at Arizona’s Notre Dame Prep. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round in 2011.
KIKUCHI VS. OHTANI
The anticipated MLB showdown between Japanese stars Yusei Kikuchi and Shohei Ohtani is expected to happen Saturday in Anaheim.
Kikuchi (3-3, 4.43 ERA) is Seattle’s projected starter for Saturday night’s second game against the Angels after his last start was skipped to give him a more extended resting period. Ohtani, Los Angeles’ regular DH, was given the day off on Kikuchi’s start day when the Angels were in Seattle during the last homestand, is expected to appear.
Angels manager Brad Ausmus elected to sit Ohtani during the most recent series between the two clubs, but has suggested the left-handed batting Ohtani will face Seattle’s rookie lefty this time around.
Kikuchi and Ohtani attended the same high school in Japan, and faced each other five times during their professional careers in Japan. Ohtani is 2-for-5 against Kikuchi with a single and double, but Kikuchi has struck him out three times.
Right-hander Jimmy Cordero was claimed off waivers Friday by the Chicago White Sox, freeing up space on the 40-man roster for Scott. The roster is full at 40 players.
Seattle claimed Cordero off waivers on May 27, assigned him to Triple-A, and then transferred him to Double-A Arkansas. He appeared in one game, allowing one hit, walking four and striking out one in 2/3 of an inning.