While the results of Justin Dunn’s MRI and the diagnosis from the team’s medical staff had not been relayed to Seattle manager Scott Servais before his pregame media session Friday afternoon, it does appear the Mariners are planning for the right-hander to be out until after the All-Star break.
As expected, the Mariners placed Dunn on the 10-day injured list. Dunn left after two scoreless innings Thursday night against the Rays with shoulder discomfort. Dunn said after the game it was the same discomfort the day after his start against the Rangers on May 29. Seattle placed him on the 10-day injured list at that time for what they felt was a minor issue. Dunn was activated June 11 and started against Cleveland, pitching just three innings and allowing five runs on nine hits with three walks and a strikeout, but had no shoulder issues.
With Dunn having two injured list stints in three weeks for the same problem, the Mariners will be cautious with his return regardless of what the MRI reveals.
The plan, for now, is to use only five starting pitchers to finish out the first half of the season before the All-Star break, which starts July 12.
“We have a ton of off days coming and we’ve kind of mapped it out,” Servais said. “Like all teams right now, you’re kind of mapping out your rotation and whatnot leading into the All-Star break and then you kind of restructure it coming out of the break. So, as of right now, with the off days we have, we will stay with the five guys that we do have. We’ve mapped it out.”
There are no plans for a bullpen start or two in the next few weeks, which is a relief to fans and the Mariners relievers. There will be one time where two veteran starters – likely Marco Gonzales and either Yusei Kikuchi or Chris Flexen – would have to start on four days rest instead of five days rest.
“Just one start apiece for a couple guys,” Servais said. “And the two guys that would take that on I think are able to handle it. So right now, we won’t slide anybody else into the rotation. We will go with five until we get to the All-Star break is what we’re hoping for. We’ve got to keep all those guys healthy, but that’s the plan right now.”
With the bullpen used heavily in the walk-off victory Thursday, Seattle made a series of roster moves to bring up fresh arms:
Yohan Ramirez, RHP, recalled from Class AAA Tacoma.
Vinny Nittoli, RHP, selected from Tacoma.
José Godoy, C, optioned to Tacoma.
Justin Dunn, RHP, placed on 10-day injured list (right shoulder inflammation).
Kyle Lewis, OF, transferred to 60-day injured list (right meniscus tear).
With the 40-man roster full, the Mariners needed to open a spot for Nittoli. Transferring Lewis to the 60-day injured list was a logical decision. He was placed on the injured list June 1. And because he had surgery on the knee, he likely won’t be back before the 60 days from the initial date.
“Just looking at where he was at, when the injury occurred, he’s had the surgery to clean up the meniscus and meniscus repair, the timing of that is probably about the time that he would be back, ready to go,” Servais said. “We’ve had to do a lot of things with our roster with as many players that we’ve lost just to make sure we’ve got guys on the 40-man and creating spots for those guys. Sometimes you have to be creative. But in talking to the medical people and our front office that seemed like about the right time.”
Nittoli, 30, will make his major-league debut with the Mariners and will be the 52nd player used this season, which leads all of MLB. In 11 appearances with Tacoma, he has a 1-0 record with a 3.50 ERA in 18 innings with five walks and 26 strikeouts. He signed with Seattle as a minor-league free agent Nov. 12, 2020, and received an invite to major-league camp.
He originally was selected by the Mariners in the 25th round of the 2014 MLB draft out of Xavier University. He has been through a variety of different levels of the minor leagues since then with stops in the Mexican League and two seasons of independent baseball.
Jake Fraley was out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive night due to left hamstring tightness. Servais said he wanted to rest Fraley, who missed 49 games with what the Mariners now are calling a left hamstring tear.
Servais said he hopes Fraley can return to the lineup Saturday and also play Sunday before the off day Monday.