Dee Gordon knows he hasn’t had the best luck the past two seasons. Since joining the Seattle Mariners during the offseason in 2017, he’s now landed on the injured list three times — once last year, and twice in 2019.
The second basemen was sent to the 10-day IL again Tuesday with a left quad strain, and will miss at least “a few weeks,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Gordon was removed from Monday night’s game with quad tightness after beating out an infield single in the second inning. The Mariners ordered an MRI the following morning, and the severity of the strain was measured between Grade 1 and Grade 2, Servais said.
“I don’t have an exact timeline, but he needs to let it heal up,” Servais said. “He felt it yesterday before the game. He was going to take it easy. Of course, the first ball is a tapper out of the box and he’s running hard. Stuff like that happens. It’s unfortunate.
“He was actually starting to get it together. A couple of good at-bats towards the end of the road trip,and then he was off to a pretty good start in this homestand. Timing is everything, and timing is not good for him right now. He’s disappointed. But, he won’t be out until the end of the season or anything, he’ll just be down a few weeks.”
Gordon said he hasn’t had a muscular injury before, and thought he was just experiencing tightness ahead of Monday’s game, but aggravated it trying to round the base on the single.
“That was the first time it happened, that it tightened up like that, and they did the right thing and got me out of the game,” Gordon said. “I’m new to this. The only things I’ve ever had is both thumbs dislocated, broken toe, wrist. No muscular stuff.”
This is the second time since May he has been sent to the IL. He was injured on Seattle’s long road trip to the East Coast earlier in the season when he was hit by a pitch. He played a handful of games with a right wrist contusion before he was eventually shut down for three weeks.
Gordon anticipated he will try to start hitting again in a few days, as swinging isn’t bothersome, but the quad strain could keep him out of games for as long as, if not longer than the wrist injury did.
He has been mentioned as one of Seattle’s potential trade pieces as the the July 31 deadline approaches, and while it is possible to trade a player on the IL, the injury could limit his value to teams looking to buy.
With Gordon likely to miss at least the first half of August, the Mariners selected infielder Tim Lopes from Triple-A Tacoma as an additional option at second base. Lopes will make his MLB debut with his first appearance.
He traveled with the Rainiers to Reno on Tuesday morning before promptly boarding a return flight to Seattle, and had not yet arrived in the clubhouse a few hours before game time.
“He’s a really good hitter,” said Mariners utility player Kris Negron, who logged significant playing time with Lopes in Tacoma earlier this season. “I was very impressed. I had never played with him or against him coming up. The guy’s a really good hitter.
“He can spray the ball around the field. A lot of doubles. Really good on the bases. Really loves being aggressive stealing bases. He’s a good, solid, all-around player.”
Lopes had an active 14-game hitting streak with the Rainiers before he was called up, including hitting home runs in four of his past seven appearances. The 25-year-old has slashed at .302/.362/.480 with 30 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 60 RBIs, 35 walks and 24 stolen bases in 91 games with Tacoma this season.
He has made 60 starts at second base this season and 20 at third, often switching off with Shed Long, who has spent two stints with Seattle this season. Long was not an option for a third call-up as he has been on the IL since July 12 with a fractured finger on his throwing hand.
To add Lopes to the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated right-handed reliever Parker Markel for assignment. Markel made five relief appearances for Seattle this season across two stints, allowing nine runs (eight earned) in 4 2/3 innings while walking four and striking out three. He had a 15.43 ERA.
When Lopes appears, he could become the 56th player the Mariners have used this season. Recently acquired reliever Matt Magill could also earn that distinction. By the time both appear, Seattle will have used 57 players this season — just four shy of the single-season club record of 61, set in 2017.
NOLA FITTING IN
Austin Nola has done a little bit of everything for the Mariners since making his MLB debut with the club in June. He’s appeared at first base, third, left field, catcher and was slated to make his first major league start at second Tuesday night in place of Gordon.
Nola last played second base in 2016 with Triple-A New Orleans in Miami’s organization, when he started 52 games there, but, Servais said he’s comfortable having Nola play anywhere.
“Austin’s a baseball player,” Servais said. “He can play every position on the field if you ask him to. We’ll fire him in there and see how that looks today. I know (infield coach) Perry Hill feels pretty confident that no matter where you put Austin out in the infield, he can handle it. I think he’ll be fine.”
Nola, who was initially called up to help fill in during a swarm of injuries, has offered competitive at-bats when he’s played regularly, hitting safely in 11 of 12 starts. He is 15-for-40 (.375) in those games with two doubles and all three of his home runs — including Monday night’s three-run, go-ahead homer against Texas.
“Right now I’m just trying to focus on getting a good pitch to swing at,” Nola said. “I worked on all the mechanics in the spring, and right now it just comes down to competing and swing at a good pitch, and trying to do my job.”
Servais opted not to use an opener ahead of left-hander Tommy Milone on Tuesday, marking the first time since June that Milone has been scheduled to start a game. He had appeared behind an opener in seven of his 11 outings this season.
“A lot of that is based on lineup,” Servais said. “Texas is like us, they have a lot of left-handed hitting. It just made more sense. (Four) of the top six hitters are left-handed. It’s probably a better match-up than putting a righty in there who doesn’t match up against them so well.”
This marks the second time since the All-Star break the Mariners have opted to start Wade LeBlanc or Milone. LeBlanc made his first start since May on July 13 in Anaheim, allowing six earned runs in four innings.
Servais said the Mariners will continue to look at match-ups when determining whether or not to use an opener as the second half progresses.
▪ The Mariners announced the hiring of Louis Boyd as the manager for Short-A Everett for the remainder of the 2019 season.
Seattle parted ways with former manager Jose Moreno last week after a recent suspension. Moreno had spent 19 years in the Mariners’ organization, including 14 as a minor league manager. He was in his third season (of this stint) managing the AquaSox.
Boyd, who is 25 years old, has worked as both a player and coach with High-A Modesto since the beginning of the season. He was selected by Seattle in the 24th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Arizona and spent two seasons in the organization’s minor league system.
▪ Former Mariners outfielder Mac Williamson, who spent six weeks with the club, will reportedly finish his season in South Korea. Williamson was signed by Seattle in June as a free agent after parting ways with the Giants. He was designated for assignment by the Mariners on July 16, and played two games with Tacoma before signing with the KBO League’s Samsung Lions.