Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners notebook: Sampson needs season-ending surgery on elbow

Mariners right-hander Adrian Sampson took his warm-up pitches before the first inning Thursday in Detroit before exiting because of what he characterized as “general soreness” in his elbow. Now, he needs to have season-ending surgery.
Mariners right-hander Adrian Sampson took his warm-up pitches before the first inning Thursday in Detroit before exiting because of what he characterized as “general soreness” in his elbow. Now, he needs to have season-ending surgery. AP

SEATTLE — The news could be worse for Mariners right-hander Adrian Sampson. But it’s still bad enough. He needs season-ending surgery to repair his elbow.

"This isn’t as bad (as Tommy John)," Sampson said, "but surgery is required. They’re saying it’s a Grade III, which is enough that they have to repair it with surgery. They’re saying I should be good by spring training.

"Obviously, it’s not how I imagined this going down. It’s tough. It’s definitely tough. I’m a competitor, and I want to be out there. I haven’t missed a start in my professional career."

Sampson warmed up Thursday in Detroit for his second big-league start but exited the game without throwing a pitch. He cited "general soreness," but an examination Friday revealed a strain in the flexor bundle.

Such injuries typically center in inner part of the elbow, and pitchers usually feel a bite when they release the ball. Rest and rehabilitation often cures the problem, but a Grade III strain suggests the muscle is torn all the way through.

"I didn’t think it was going to be this bad at all," Sampson said. "Getting the news (Friday) was not good for me. I felt horrible. But, (on Friday), I was here for a walk-off win. That was special for me, too.

"And being in a Mariners uniform for the first time in Safeco. I’m just trying to find the good stuff in all of this right now."

The injury halts a breakout season for Sampson, a Redmond native whom the Mariners acquired last year from Pittsburgh at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline for veteran left-hander J.A. Happ.

Sampson, 24, was 7-4 with a 3.25 ERA this season at Triple-A Tacoma when promoted June 18 to fill the rotation vacancy caused by an injury to lefty Wade Miley.

"I feel terrible for him," manager Scott Servais said. "I really do. He was really excited to get to the big leagues. He’s worked his tail off, and he was playing for the hometown team."

Sampson made his big-league debut June 18 at Boston by pitching three scoreless inning before running into trouble. His final line showed four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.

"Being here," he said, "and feeling good about how my stuff is playing, it…just sucks. There’s nothing much else to say about it."

Sampson knows something of what to expect. He underwent reconstructive-elbow surgery — Tommy John surgery — in July 2009 and missed his senior season at Skyline High School.

"When I went through Tommy John," he said, "there were a lot of ups and downs. You’ve just got to find ways to stay positive. Some days you’re going to feel better than others. I’m going to maintain my lower strength.

"It’s more mental than anything. I feel I’m pretty mentally strong. I’m still just 24 years old, and I have a long way to go. I’ll be back."

CONTROLLING THE ZONE

One of the many factors in the Mariners’ alarming 7-16 swoon through June is a failure to execute their organization’s new core philosophy to "control the zone."

The organization’s shorthand measurement in gauging CTZ success is a simple compilation of the difference between walks and strikeouts.

For batters: a walk is a plus-1, and a strikeout is a minus-1. For pitchers, just the opposite: a strikeout is a plus-1, and a walk is a minus-1. Merging the two provides a team total.

In compiling a 30-21 record through May, the Mariners posted a net plus-77 through those 51 games. In 23 June games through Friday, they were a net minus-12.

The slippage is occurring on both sides of the ball.

The lineup, through May, averaged a minus-4.11 ratio (4.11 more strikeouts than walks per game). Since June 1, that ratio has soared by 33 percent to minus-5.48.

The pitching staff, through May, averaged plus-5.63 per game. Since June 1, that ratio has dipped 12 percent to plus-4.96.

The metric, at least in part, reflects success in achieving organizational goals. The Mariners put their club together with an emphasis on walks and strikeouts. Success in those areas translated to success on the field.

But the approach is not a universal gauge for success.

Texas entered Saturday at 47-27 and holding a nine-game lead in the AL West despite a minus-84 ratio. AL East-leading Baltimore (42-30) was even worse at minus-89.

WALK-OFF BOMBS

Adam Lind’s three-run homer Friday that produced a 4-3 victory was the Mariners’ fourth walk-off blast of the season.

But this one was a rarity.

Lind’s walk-off homer against St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal was just the third in the franchise’s 40-year history that erased a multi-run deficit — and the first in 31 seasons.

The others came with two outs and were against the same reliever: Ron Davis.

***Tom Paciorek: May 9, 1981, a three-run homer with two outs for a 6-5 victory over the New York Yankees at the Kingdome.

***Phil Bradley: April 13, 1985, a grand slam in an 8-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins at the Kingdome.

MILEY SHARP AT EVERETT

Left-hander Wade Miley retired all 12 batters over four innings Friday night in a rehab start for Short-A Everett against Boise (Rockies) in what figures to be the final test in his recovery from a sore shoulder.

"It felt fine," he said. "I’m ready to go. I guess the rest was good because I feel great."

Miley threw 54 pitches and registered seven strikeouts in his first game appearance since a June 12 start at Texas. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to be activated prior to a projected Wednesday start against Pittsburgh at Safeco Field.

The AquaSox won the Friday’s game 3-2 on a walk-off walk in the 10th inning.

Miley was 6-3 with a 5.28 ERA in 13 big-league starts prior to his injury.

BAKERSFIELD NO-HITTER

Three pitchers at Hi-A Bakersfield combined on a no-hitter Friday night in a 3-0 victory over Modesto (Rockies). Osmer Morales pitched the first five innings before Isaac Sanchez and Jake Zokan each worked two innings.

It was the first no-hitter thrown by Bakersfield in its home park, Sam Lynn Ballpark, which opened in 1941. The last no-hitter by a visiting club was in 1991.

Friday’s game was scoreless through seven innings. Jay Baum’s two-run single highlighted a three-run eighth inning. Zokan got the victory.

Morales, 23, is a native Venezuelan who was signed in 2009. He was making his first start of the season and is 0-1 with a 6.12 ERA overall in 12 games.

Sanchez, 23, was acquired last December from Pittsburgh in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He has a 1.82 ERA this season in 22 games with 48 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings.

Zokan, 25, was a ninth-round pick in 2013. He is 3-0 with two saves and has yet to allow a run in 17 2/3 innings over 10 appearances.

MINOR DETAILS

Miley returned from Everett with an upbeat scoutiing report on the Mariners’ first- and third-round picks in recent MLB Draft: outfielder Kyle Lewis and shortstop Bryson Brigman.

"Lewis hit a missile off the left-field wall for a double," Miley said. "He drove in the first run. The third-round pick, the shortstop, is a stud. He can play. Kyle DH’d (on Friday), so I didn’t see him defensively."

LOOKING BACK

It was 13 years ago Sunday — June 26, 2003 — that Edgar Martinez hit a two-run homer at Anaheim and became the franchise’s all-time leader in RBIs.

Martinez’s homer came in the seventh inning against Ben Weber in a 10-6 victory over the Angels. It boosted is career RBI total to 1,153, which moved him past Ken Griffey Jr.

Martinez finished his 18-year career, spent entirely with the Mariners, with 1,261 RBIs and remains the franchise’s all-time leader. Griffey returned to the Mariners at the conclusion of his 22-year career and boosted his club total to 1,216.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Cardinals conclude their three-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. Left-hander James Paxton (1-3 with a 3.34 ERA) will face St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia (5-6 and 3.83).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.

The Mariners have an open date Monday before continuing their nine-game homestand with two games against Pittsburgh and four against Baltimore.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

AMERICAN LEAGUE: CONTROLLING THE ZONE

The "Control the Zone" metric used by the Mariners credits batters for walks and pitchers for strikeouts, while penalizing reverse. These are the totals for all 15 American League clubs prior to Saturday’s games. The AL average is plus-6.

New York Yankees: plus-185

Boston Red Sox: plus-118

Cleveland Indians: plus-70

Seattle Mariners: plus-65

Los Angeles Angels: plus-58

Houston Astros: plus-23

Oakland Athletics: plus-8

Toronto Blue Jays: plus-5

Kansas City Royals: minus-16

Tampa Bay Rays: minus-47

Chicago White Sox: minus-49

Minnesota Twins: minus-75

Texas Rangers: minus-84

Baltimore Orioles: minus-89

Detroit Tigers: minus-98

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