One slugger is back in the Mariners lineup.
Their most important slugger isn’t far behind.
Eugenio Suarez was activated from the injured list Tuesday afternoon before the Mariners’ final homestand of the season, 11 days after he broke a bone in the tip of his right index finger.
Suarez was batting fourth as the designated hitter for Tuesday’s game against Texas at T-Mobile Park. It’s a welcome return for the Mariners, who went 3-7 in their final road trip while playing much of the trip without Suarez and Julio Rodriguez, their two home-run leaders.
There was also an encouraging update on Rodriguez, the rookie sensation who landed on the IL on Friday with a back strain.
“Julio has been feeling good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “There’s a possibility he starts picking up baseball activity later this week. Maybe you’ll see him out here running around and doing some things.”
Rodriguez is eligible to be activated Monday, when the Mariners host Detroit to start the final regular-season series of the season.
Suarez, meanwhile, went through regular defensive drills Tuesday afternoon, fielding ground balls and, for the first time since the bone fracture, making throws to first base.
Servais is hopeful Suarez could play third base later this week. For now, he’ll be the DH, and Servais didn’t expect Suarez would have any limitations swinging the bat.
“He looks great,” Servais said. “He hasn’t played in 10 days, so you always worry about timing issues and whatnot. But Geno is a ballplayer. He’s excited to get out there.”
Suarez leads the Mariners in home runs (31), RBI (84) and extra-base hits (56) this season.
In his last 40 games, he is batting .246 with 26 runs, four doubles, 15 home runs, 32 RBI and 20 walks since Aug. 1.
Cal Raleigh good
Cal Raleigh was back in the lineup Tuesday, two days after leaving Sunday’s 13-12 loss in Kansas City with an ailing left thumb.
It’s an injury Raleigh has been playing through — and one he’ll continue to have to play through.
Raleigh hunched over in pain behind the plate Sunday after catching a breaking ball from Matt Brash directly on his left thumb. When that brutal inning ended — after the Royals scored 11 runs in a mind-numbing comeback — Servais made the decision to pull Raleigh.
Servais, a catcher for 11 major-league seasons, says those sorts of injuries come with the territory at the position. And Raleigh is just too valuable to take out of the lineup as the Mariners push for their first playoff berth in 21 years.
“I think he’s going to be fine,” Servais said. “There will be some issues he’ll have to play through. We do have a couple guys on our team that I would put in this ‘extremely tough/mental’ bucket, and he’s one of them. And that’s what you have to have when you play that position. He’s not going to shy off. He wants to play.”
Raleigh leads all MLB catchers with 25 home runs, tied with Mike Zunino (2017) for the season franchise record for home runs by a catcher.
The 25-year-old Raleigh is the only MLB catcher this season with 25 home runs and a defensive WAR of 1.0 or more (via Baseball Reference). He is the youngest catcher to meet that criteria since the Dodgers’ Mike Piazza in 1994. Piazza was 24 at the time.
NOTE: Taylor Trammell was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma to make room for Suarez. The Rainiers’ season concludes Wednesday in Reno. After that, Trammell will be one of a handful of players from the Rainiers who will continue to work out at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Arizona — just in case the Mariners need reinforcements in the final days of the season.