Julio Rodriguez bounced into the clubhouse Monday ready to do something more than sit in the training room. The Mariners’ All-Star center fielder wasn’t in the lineup for a fourth consecutive game due to a sore left wrist, but he was happy to be headed out to participate in part of the daily pregame workout.
“I’m going to try and swing a little bit and see how it feels,” he said. “It feels a lot better today. I would love to be out there. We are being cautious but if I can get to a point where I can play through it, I would.”
Rodriguez had the wrist taped up with blue athletic tape that wrapped around the thumb for added support.
“Julio is doing better,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s definitely moving in the right direction. Very, very optimistic that we could see him in the lineup tomorrow. So that’s what I’m shooting for there. You probably will not see him in tonight’s game at any point. But I’m hopeful with him doing a little bit more baseball activity today that I’m optimistic that he can be in there tomorrow.”
Rodriguez played catch with teammates and did some defensive work in the outfield, but he did not hit on the field, opting to hit in the Mariners indoor cages.
Asked what he needed to see from Rodriguez to feel comfortable about putting him back into the lineup, Servais was candid.
“I just need the trainers to tell me he’s ready because I want to play him really bad,” Servais said with a laugh. “I don’t need a whole lot to tell me. I don’t need to see a whole lot. If they tell me he’s good to go, he’s in there. So that’s what we’re waiting on right now.”
But Rodriguez wasn’t the only everyday player absent from the lineup. Left fielder Jesse Winker was also out due to a sore right ankle after rolling it on a collision behind first base with Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena.
“He’s not limping around or anything like that, but we thought it best to give him a day off,” Servais said.
While Winker could be available to pinch hit, the Mariners would prefer that he receive treatment on the ankle and not play if possible.
“If we could, yes,” Servais said. “In a perfect world. I’d love to win the game, 8-2, and not have to worry about it. Typically, we don’t play a lot of those games but maybe tonight will be the night.”
With their roster setup, Servais was forced to start Adam Frazier in left field, Dylan Moore in center field and Sam Haggerty in right field. All three players primary position is second base.
“First thing I thought about the lineup today, ‘Yeah, I’ve got three second baseman in the outfield,” Servais said. “It’s a credit to those guys. They’ve done a really good job. Dylan’s has not played much center field in his career, and he’s been pretty good out there. Frazier has handled everything thrown at him and Haggerty is not an outfielder by trade, so to speak, but he’s handled it well.”
On the mend
Mitch Haniger, Taylor Trammell and Evan White all took early batting practice off the velocity pitching machine and then more swings off hitting coach Tony Arnerich. All three players are on the injured list and working their way back to game ready.
Haniger, who is recovering from a serious high right-ankle sprain, is three games into his rehab assignment. He spent the weekend playing for High-A Everett. Haniger started as the designated hitter Friday and Saturday and then played five innings in right field Sunday.
He had a hit in each game, including a solo homer Sunday.
“It was a long layoff,” he said of his timing with his swing. “I know for me, usually coming out of spring training, it takes me a little while [to find it].”
There was some soreness in his ankle after playing in the games.
“Anytime you get hurt, that first week or so back there’s some soreness and that’s expected,” he said.
Haniger will return to game action Tuesday with Class AAA Tacoma to continue his rehab assignment with the Rainiers. He isn’t certain if he will take all 20 days of the rehab assignment. And there isn’t a specific number of at-bats or feeling with his swing that will tell him he’s ready.
“I think I just need quantity right now, just playing,” he said. “I can’t tell you when that will be. Usually, you know when you feel ready, and I don’t know when that will be. It’s hard to predict.”
Trammell (right hamstring strain) will likely start a rehab assignment this week. He re-strained the hamstring while running to first in a game June 28 vs. the Orioles and went on the injured list the following day. He originally strained the hamstring April 7 while playing for Class AAA Tacoma.
“He’s moving along really, really aggressively and picked up his running,” Servais said. “I think you’ll see him out on a rehab probably when we go out on the road [Thursday]. I’m anxious to get him out there and get him playing. It just gives us more options because we are a little short in the outfield right now.”
White (sports hernia surgery) is nearing a rehab assignment after suffering a setback in his recovery during a rehab stint in June.
“I finally feel completely healthy,” he said. “I just want to start playing games.”
White said the preliminary plan is to start a rehab stint Aug. 2 when Tacoma starts a five-game series in Sacramento. He could probably start the assignment earlier, but his wife, Kari, is expecting the birth of their second child in the next week.