TORONTO — The ball sat in Eugenio Suarez’s locker and will be destined for a mantle where the baseballs from his first major-league homer, his 100th homer and other special moments are also on display.
In Monday’s 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays, he clubbed his 200th career homer at the MLB level. The towering blast off right-hander Trevor Richards hit off the stands in left-center and bounced back into the field. It meant he didn’t have to bargain with a fan to get a baseball that has great meaning to him.
“It’s not the way that I wanted,” he said. “I wanted to celebrate with my teammates with a win. This game is like that. I will just enjoy the moment and thank God for giving me the opportunity to play these games and get 200 home runs in my career.”
His first MLB homer was also his first big-league hit. It came on June 7, 2014, in the first game he ever started in the big leagues. Playing shortstop and batting ninth for the Tigers against the Red Sox, Suarez led off the fourth inning with a solo homer deep over the left-field wall at Comerica Park off left-hander Jon Lester.
“Now I got my 200th homer eight years later,” he said. “It’s kind of crazy. I never thought when I was young that I’d get an opportunity to hit 200 homers in the big leagues. It’s a dream come true.”
Signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela, Suarez hit just four homers in 85 games in his MLB debut season. He was traded to the Reds along with minor-league pitcher Jonathan Crawford for pitcher Alfredo Simon before the 2015 season.
Suarez found his power in Cincinnati. He hit 13 homers in 97 games in 2015 and saw his power numbers increase each year. He hit a total of 189 homers with the Reds over seven seasons, including 49 in 2019. From 2017 to 2021, he hit a total of 155 homers.
Only 22 other active players in MLB have hit at least 200 homers.
Catcher Tom Murphy (dislocated left shoulder) is increasing his activity level with the hope of being activated from the injured list at some point on this road trip.
Murphy has been working out with his typical intensity while also hitting off the tee and playing catch before games.
“He’s moving along,” manager Scott Servais said. “I think the plan was to start taking some more swings in the cage and catch a bullpen today or tomorrow. He’s working really hard to get back as soon as he can. I’m pretty optimistic we might see him in Boston at some point.”
Relievers Erik Swanson (right elbow inflammation) and Matt Festa (right elbow tendinitis) are progressing to a return
Festa, who went on the injured list on May 4, started a rehab assignment with High-A Everett on Tuesday evening.
Swanson, who went on the 15-day injured list on May 14, no longer has the discomfort in the back of his elbow due to a nerve issue. He would be eligible to return on May 29.
“He’s feeling much better,” Servais said. “I’m hoping by the end of the 15 days that he’s ready to be back and active. So leading up to that, he will probably have one rehab assignment.”
First baseman Evan White (sports hernia) will start a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma on Wednesday in Sacramento. White was diagnosed with the injury during spring training and underwent surgery on March 30.
Outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Lewis was back in the Rainiers lineup as the designated hitter for Tuesday’s game in Sacramento, continuing his rehab assignment. Lewis last played on Saturday for Tacoma, going 1 for 4. He didn’t play in Sunday’s rain-delayed game.
He has played in seven games on his rehab assignment, which lasts 20 days, and played in back-to-back games on two different occasions. After starting his second game of the rehab stint in left field, Lewis has started the remainder of games at DH.
Lewis’ rehab officially ends Monday. The last game he could play in for Tacoma is Sunday. Presumably, he would be activated from the injured list to open Seattle’s upcoming homestand Monday night vs. the Oakland Athletics.
If he’s not ready, Lewis and the Mariners can ask to be given a second rehab assignment. It’s not common, but Franklin Gutierrez was granted that permission with the Mariners.
On the farm
After being sidelined for the minor-league minicamp and spring training with a strained right lat muscle, right-hander Emerson Hancock made his 2022 debut Tuesday night for Class AA Arkansas in Little Rock.
Hancock, who is rated as the Mariners’ No. 5 prospect in the organization, has battled injuries since he was taken in the first round (No. 6 overall) of the 2020 MLB draft.
He needed 34 pitches to get through a first inning where he gave up two runs on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Working on a limited pitch count, Hancock retired the first batter of the second inning and was removed from the game at 36 pitches.
Outfielder Jarred Kelenic reported to Class AAA Tacoma and was in the starting lineup — playing right field and batting third in the order behind Lewis.
Kelenic was optioned to Tacoma on Friday, but the Mariners told him to take the all three days allotted to a player before reporting to get mental and physical reset. Kelenic went home to Wisconsin to see his family. Though given his competitive nature, he likely did some baseball activity in the hitting/training facility owned by his family.