Dee Gordon was eager to return to the Seattle Mariners lineup days after Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ hit him in the wrist with a pitch in early May. He wanted to help the club get back on track.
He did his part, playing in seven games before eventually landing on the 10-day injured list on May 21 anyway with a deep bone bruise in his right wrist. Several days into his IL stint, he admitted he tried to come back too soon.
Gordon’s desire to get back on the field so quickly ended up costing him a few games this season, and landed him with a more extended recovery period. But, as tiresome as the IL stay has been, Gordon reported to Triple-A Tacoma for a — hopefully short — rehab assignment Friday.
“It’s been tough, but it’s for the best of the team,” Gordon said. “They need me to be healthy.”
He’s spent a lot of the past three weeks working with training staff, using massage and other methods to try to break up scar tissue and tendonitis. The wrist still mildly bothers him, but Gordon said he knows how to get it warmed up.
He played his first game with the Rainiers on Friday night, finishing 1-for-4 as the designated hitter. He was scratched from starting at second base during a pregame rain delay, but played there Saturday night, and went 1-for-5 leading off.
“I’m ready to start playing in games, to get my feel back,” Gordon said.
Gordon is one of nearly a dozen Mariners currently on the IL, and said it’s been tough to see that many players hit by injuries at once.
“It’s crazy,” Gordon said. “You would come in and do your treatment, and there’s like six guys in front of you. It’s just part of it, though.”
He is also expected to be the first to make his return to the club, as early as next week, when Seattle plays a three-game series against the Twins.
“If everything goes according to plan with Dee, there’s a good chance he could meet us over in Minnesota,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters in Anaheim on Friday. “We may go earlier, but right now that’s kind of the plan.”
While he and so many other regular starters have been out, Gordon said it’s been encouraging to see the Mariners show some progress in the past week. Seattle routed Houston on Wednesday, nearly won an extra-innings battle with the Astros on Thursday, and took its series opener from the Angels on Friday night in Anaheim.
“Definitely, it’s great to see that,” Gordon said. “Especially with me being out, (Mitch) Haniger being out, at the end of that, too. It’s good to see the fight in them.”
Still, Gordon says the Mariners haven’t completely turned a corner yet.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot to do to get better.”
SANTANA SETTLING IN
During the last homestand, the Mariners opted to move outfielder Domingo Santana from left field to right. Santana had played right field for the majority of his career before joining Seattle’s club this season.
The move seems to be paying off early on.
Before moving to right field, Santana led all MLB outfielders with nine errors in left. Entering Saturday, he played error-free baseball in three games in right.
The move also seems to have freed up his bat a bit. In that stretch, he slashed at .375/.412/.938, hitting 6-for-16 with three homers and five RBIs, while walking once and striking out three times.
“Domingo brought his A-game tonight, and it was great to see,” Servais said following Friday night’s game, during which Santana hit a pair of home runs. “Certainly he looks very comfortable over in right field. He’s just relaxing. And, again, good swings tonight and played well defensively.”
Santana also made an impressive defensive play in the 6-2 win over the Angels, ripping a fly ball in foul territory away from a fan to record an out in the fifth, when the Mariners were leading by a run.
“From our vantage point here in the dugout you can’t see anything in the right field corner,” Servais said. “I went up to him and asked afterward, and he said the fan actually caught it in his glove, and he ripped it away from the fan.”
Mariners backup catcher Tom Murphy had an eight-game hitting streak entering Saturday night’s game in Anaheim, and has hit 9-for-28 with three home runs and seven RBIs during that span. His active streak is tied for the second-longest in the American League.
Friday night, he belted a three-run home run to give the Mariners some cushion in a 6-2 win over the Angels. It was his fifth homer of the season.
“Murphy played really good,” Servais said. “He’s got power, and he’s a really competitive intense guy. We talk about how hard he works. He’s done a lot of things to change up his swing with Tim Laker and our hitting coaches, and it’s paying off. It’s great to see.”