The name on the screen said Scott Servais, but on the screen was instead a handsome, smiling 19-year-old young man who was far happier than most people would be in his current situation.
“Can you guys see me?” Julio Rodriguez asked with a wide smile. “I’m doing my job for the day being the manager. Yeah, I’m the manager. I’m replacing Scott for the day.”
Unfortunately his first job as manager would be not writing his own name in the lineup due to injury. It was just two days ago that Rodriguez suffered a hairline fracture in his left wrist while diving for a ball in the outfield during a base-running drill. The injury will likely cause him to miss most or all of the workouts and intrasquad games at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
“I would think about doing this job,” he said. “What do you think?”
Well, the good players make more than managers with better job security. And a player with Rodriguez’s superstar potential, well, he could dwarf Servais’ annual salary if he performs up to expectations.
“That’s true,” he said.
Rodriguez didn’t act like a player that had an already shortened season cut even further. He was still the same gregarious kid that everybody seems to like in the organization.
“I’ve never seen Julio on a day when he’s in down spirit,” Servais said. “He’s always upbeat and he was messing around in the clubhouse today. Obviously, he’s going to be down for a little bit, but he always has a great attitude.”
While he isn’t supposed to do any baseball activity, Rodriguez was in the batting cage on Sunday, taking swings with his right hand. A navy blue cast could be seen covering his left wrist.
“He’s going to try to stay in shape the best he can and stay busy,” Servais said. “A guy like him, with so much energy, he needs to have something to distract him a little bit, but he’s fun to have around.”
The Mariners are in the process of working out a playing plan with Leones Del Escogido, the Dominican Winter winter league team that holds Rodriguez’s rights, to get him lost at-bats and games in his home country.
“We just want to make sure he gets plenty of playing time and I think we’re going to be able to make that happen,” Servais said.
MLB sources confirmed a report from Jon Heyman of MLB Network that the Mariners are in the process of signing right-handed reliever Bryan Shaw.
Shaw, 32, was released by the Rockies on Friday along with lefty Jake Diekman. Colorado will pay for the pro-rated portion of his $9 million salary ($3.3 million) along with a $2 million buyout for the 2021 season.
Seattle only has to pay him to pro-rated league minimum top put him on the roster. The Mariners tried to sign Shaw before the 2018 season, but were outbid by the Rockies, who gave him a three-year, $27 million contract. It turned out to be a bad investment. Shaw struggled the past two seasons, posting a combined 7-8 record with a 5.61 ERA in 131 appearances. Opposing hitters batted over .300 with a plus-.900 on-base plus slugging percentage against Shaw.
But he did have success in Cleveland, posting a 3.11 ERA in 378 appearances over five seasons.
Shaw must pass his physical and then clear intake testing before he joins the Mariners. It’s unlikely that he will be cleared in time to participate in the remaining days of summer camp. But there is still an outside chance that he is on the team’s opening day roster, which must be submitted by 9 a.m. Thursday.
Servais said that the Mariners’ recent first-round picks – right-handers Emerson Hancock (No. 6 overall in 2020 and George Kirby (No. 20 overall in 2019) won’t pitch in the remaining MLB intrasquad games at T-Mobile Park before the regular season begins. They will wait and do so in Tacoma. Both pitchers weren’t far enough along in their throwing programs to make outings over the last few weeks.
“There’s absolutely no reason to risk injury or push those guys out there even though they would love to go out there and pitch,” he said. “We’re just taking a very precautious approach. It’s the right thing to do. They understand it.”