The starting center fielder missed his third straight game with wrist soreness and the starting left fielder limped out of the clubhouse Sunday at T-Mobile Park with an aching right ankle.
Might the Mariners be starting three utility infielders — Dylan Moore, Sam Haggerty and Adam Frazier — in the outfield at once when they open a three-game series against the Texas Rangers?
It’s certainly possible if Julio Rodriguez’s left wrist forces him to miss a fourth game and Jesse Winker’s twisted right ankle is too sore to allow him to play Monday.
Winker’s injury occurred in the second inning of the Mariners’ 8-5 loss to Houston.
After Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena, playing on the second base side because of an infield shift, gloved a soft roller on the run and flipped it to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, Pena’s momentum carried him into the baseline behind the bag. He couldn’t avoid crashing into Winker, who had run through the bag.
Gurriel dropped the ball and Winker had a painful single as he sat and collected himself in the dirt.
“It’s something that happens,” Winker said. “I think he was just watching the ball and we collided. It was no big deal. I would have been good if I didn’t step on his foot. It was just an unfortunate part. Obviously, it was an accident. No one’s trying to collide on that play. Thankfully, both players are OK.”
Well, Winker is sort of OK. On the collision, his helmet hit off his nose resulting in a cut. But even worse, he twisted his right ankle.
“I think I stepped on Pena’s foot,” Winker said. “It was like when you roll your ankle playing basketball. It’s not that big of a deal. I rolled it pretty good, but I think I’ll be all right. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. As long as it loosens up, I’ll be good to go. I really don’t expect to miss any time.”
Winker remained in the game and played another inning, but the ankle started to tighten up.
“I think anytime you roll your ankle like that it just kind of gets worse,” he said. “So I came out of the game and got some treatment.”
For the third straight day, Rodriguez spent the game in the training room receiving treatment on his left wrist that he jammed before the All-Star break in Texas on a slide and apparently exacerbated during the home run derby.
“He feels better today,” manager Scott Servais said.
Rodriguez had an MRI on Saturday, which came back clean with no structural damage, only showing some swelling.
“It’s nothing we think is going keep him out for a long time,” Servais said pregame. “With the day game today and night game (Monday), keeping my fingers crossed that he could be available. I wish I could give you a more definite timeline. But that’s the information I’ve got.”
Because it’s a wrist injury and the torque with which Rodriguez swings, the Mariners want to be careful not to make it worse.
“You do want to be cautious with it,” Servais said. “And also you have to listen to the player, trust the player. Even though he’s young, nobody knows his body better than Julio. So working with our trainers, those guys have given me the updates and we’ll just go with what they say.”
Servais was hoping to avoid placing Rodriguez on the 10-day injured list. But if they had to, it can be backdated a maximum of three days, meaning he’d be eligible to return seven days after going on the IL.
With Winker’s status being uncertain, the Mariners might be forced to make that move. Though they’ll avoid it as much as possible and play short-handed if needed.
“I hate to put anybody on IL if they’re going to be back in another day or two,” Servais said. “Now you’re just buying 10 days gone from one of your key players. So I’d like to patch it up best we can if they can’t go tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see.”