SAN DIEGO — On a cloudless sunny day, the kind of day that makes people wonder why they’d ever leave San Diego, Jesse Winker got some time away from the ballpark.
As expected, the Mariners outfielder started serving his six-game suspension for his role in the brawl between the Angels and Mariners on June 26.
Winker was initially suspended for seven games by Major League Baseball “for actions that caused the incident and for fighting.” But after appealing the decision through the Major League Baseball Players Union, it was reduced to six games.
While Winker starts his suspension, shortstop J.P. Crawford returns to the Mariners lineup after serving a four-game suspension, reduced from five games.
“So we get J.P. back and Winker is out,” manager Scott Servais said.
Winker participated a little bit in the Mariners’ pregame workout but was required to leave the clubhouse before the 3:40 p.m. first pitch.
Though his production numbers have been disappointing for much of this season, one of a handful of reasons why Seattle struggled to score runs, Winker had started to provide more from the plate. During a 10-game stretch that included the previous road trip, Winker posted a .412/.525/.706 slash line with four doubles, two homers, eight RBI, seven walks and six strikeouts. But that was followed by three hitless games where the Mariners scored five total runs to end the homestand.
Overall, Winker has a .226/.341/.337 slash line with 13 doubles, six homers, 33 RBI, 49 walks and 60 strikeouts. In the 16 games that he’s had multiple hits, the Mariners are 11-5. In the nine games he’s driven in two runs or more, Seattle is 6-3. The infrequency of either occurrence in the Mariners’ first 81 games is an issue.
Regardless of the suboptimal results, not having Winker in a lineup that’s already missing Ty France, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis is an issue. For six games against teams with winning records — two vs. the Padres (47-34) and four vs. the Blue Jays (44-36) — is less than ideal for a team that struggles to score runs.
“It is a challenge,” Servais said. “When Wink is hitting, we’re obviously a much different offense and you’ve seen us be more productive, put up runs with more traffic. The last couple of games have been a little slow for him. But leading up to that it was really going pretty well, so hopefully it doesn’t screw him up too much. Maybe a break will be good. I don’t know. I’m trying put a positive spin on it.”
While many loved that Winker went to the Angels dugout after getting hit in the hip by right-hander Andrew Wantz to confront interim manager Phil Nevin and injured infielder Anthony Rendon, who were yelling at him, Servais is less than enthused about it. He’s trying to cobble together lineups as players sit out with suspensions and with backup catcher Luis Torrens on the injured list after suffering a shoulder injury in the fight.
“It’s unfortunate,” Servais said. “We’re paying the price of what happened over a week ago over in Anaheim. There’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to follow the rules.”
With lefty Sean Manaea on the mound, Servais started utility player Dylan Moore in left field in Winker’s absence.
“It’ll be pieced together,” Servais said. “D-Mo will get plenty of time. I thought he did a heck of a job the last four days with J.P. out, made all the plays at shortstop. He had the one big home run but the at-bats were really competitive. He got on base a lot. He is figuring out a way to walk and do what he can to keep the lineup moving. So you know he’ll continue to get playing time in the outfield.”
Servais said they’ll possibly use Adam Frazier in left field on occasions based on starting pitching matchups.
The Mariners still have one player waiting to serve a suspension from that fight with the Angels. And it’s their best player on the field right now in rookie outfielder Julio Rodriguez. He was given a two-game suspension “for his actions” in the brawl, but he still doesn’t understand what he did. He’s adamant that he never threw a punch in the scrum. There is no video showing him doing anything other than trying to pull people out of the situation.
Rodriguez had hoped that he would get the suspension overturned on the appeal, but he’s expecting to have it reduced to one game, which he would serve July 12 at Nats Park in Washington, D.C.
— Rookie Marcus Wilson, who was called up last week, made his first start in the outfield. Before the game, Wilson, who played at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, had his family on the field before the game. He also received a phone call from former Mariners outfielder and current minor league outfield coordinator Mike Cameron to offer advice and encouragement before the game.
Wilson scratched off another career first in the second inning when he hit a sharp line drive that Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim couldn’t corral on a leaping attempt. Wilson had his first MLB hit.
— Ty France (left) elbow strain is not on the short two-game road trip with the Mariners. He opted to remain in Seattle and continue to rehab the elbow in hopes of possibly being reinstated from the 10-day injured list for the upcoming series with Blue Jays in Seattle.
“Ty is going to try and get two good days of work back there and then see where that’s at,” Servais said. “Possible does he go out and get a few at-bats (on a rehab assignment). I think there’s a really good chance Ty could get back with us on the weekend at some point. So that’s what we’re hopeful for. We’ll see how today and tomorrow goes back home.”