The Mariners plan to activate Julio Rodriguez in time for Monday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, manager Scott Servais said.
Rodriguez went on the 10-day injured list on Sept. 23 with a lower-back strain, and before Sunday’s game against Oakland, Servais said that Rodriguez would be getting “a ton of swings” in the cage that day to see how his back held up.
Following the Mariners’ 10-3 loss, Servais gave Rodriguez the all clear.
“Julio felt good going through the workout,” Servais said. “He’ll probably be in the lineup (Monday), maybe in the outfield, maybe at DH. I haven’t made that call just yet.”
Rodriguez first tweaked his lower back during the Mariners’ mid-September road series against the Angels. He played in the first game of the series Sept. 16, but sat out the next three games with what the team called “lower-back discomfort.”
Rodriguez returned to the lineup Sept. 20 against Oakland, and started the next three games before being removed from the lineup Sept. 22 with more back discomfort. Since then, Rodriguez has had to watch from the bench as the Mariners clinched their first playoff berth since 2001.
With the playoffs starting this week, Servais wanted to get Rodriguez back in the lineup as soon as possible to get his timing back at the plate.
“He wants to be in there, but things happen,” Servais said. “Putting him on the IL was definitely the right thing to do to let that situation calm down. The thing you always worry about when you are out 10 days is timing. What’s the timing going to be like at the plate? Certainly we saw (Eugenio Suarez) struggle the first day back, and after that Geno has been Geno. He has been locked in. That’s why I want to get Julio in there as soon as we can, to see how his body reacts and also get him as many at-bats as we can, and feel good about where he is at heading into the playoffs.”
Cal Raleigh sits again to rest thumb
Cal Raleigh was out of the lineup Sunday for the third straight game as the team tried to let his bothersome left thumb heal in time for the playoffs. Raleigh was removed from last Sunday’s game against the Royals after re-aggravating the injury.
Raleigh has started just one game since then, against the Rangers on Thursday, though he was used as a pinch-hitter in Friday’s game against the A’s, where he hit a walk-off homer to clinch the Mariners’ spot in the playoffs.
The Mariners considered penciling in Raleigh into Sunday’s lineup, but decided to give him another day of rest. Servais plans to put Raleigh back into the lineup Monday against Detroit right-handed pitcher Bryan Garcia.
Servais juggles pitchers for doubleheader
The Mariners will get one extra pitcher to help out in Tuesday’s doubleheader against Detroit. Servais said that he isn’t sure who it will be, but he is certain that he will take advantage of the extra arm as he tries to get his starting rotation and bullpen lined up for the postseason.
“That guy will pitch,” Servais said. “I will guarantee you that.”
Relief pitcher Chris Flexen will start the second game of the doubleheader, so he will be unavailable to pitch Monday.
“Hopefully we can get 50 or 60 pitches out of (Flexen),” Servais said. “It’s not like he can go out there and throw 100 pitches. He hasn’t done it in a couple of months. So we have to be smart there as well.”
The Mariners have Wednesday’s starting pitcher marked as TBA although it is Logan Gilbert’s s scheduled day to pitch.
Servais reiterated that the Mariners plan to do everything they can to pass Toronto for the first wild-card spot in order to host the wild-card series. If it all came down to Wednesday’s game, Gilbert would be the one to get the ball.
“I think it’s a huge advantage to play these games at home,” Servais said. “Anybody who says it’s not, they’re crazy. If you were here the other night, you see what kind of advantage that could be in this ballpark for us. But again, the schedule, how the Blue Jays are doing and how we are doing will dictate that.”