Shortstop Ketel Marte was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained thumb. Infielder Chris Taylor was recalled from Class AAA Tacoma to take his place.
CINCINNATI — The Mariners placed shortstop Ketel Marte on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb on Sunday morning. As expected, infielder Chris Taylor was recalled from Class AAA Tacoma. Taylor was in the clubhouse pregame, but not in the starting lineup. Utility infielder Shawn O’Malley will start at shortstop, but Taylor is likely to play on Sunday.
Marte is the first Mariners’ position player to be placed on the disabled list this season. He injured the thumb on a headfirst slide into second base on a stolen base in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Cincinnati
“Everything indicates that it shouldn’t be any longer than 15 days with Marte,” manager Scott Servais said. “It’s not as bad as what was originally thought. He’s certainly playing at a high level. We love having him in our lineup. But every team has to deal with this stuff. It’s happened to numerous teams throughout the league. This is the first time it’s happened to us with an every day player.”
Marte is hitting .276 with a .685 on-base plus slugging percentage with nine doubles, two triples, a homer and 31 RBI in 40 games. But he’s really picked it up over his last 27 games, hitting .315 with a .799 OPS
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It’s the second time in two seasons that Marte has injured the thumb. Last year on May 31, he broke the thumb while running the bases on an awkward slide into second base, missing six weeks of the season.
“There’s nothing broken,” Servais said. “The thumb bent in a different way from what I understand. I’m sure the doctor will look at it when we get back to Seattle, but no MRI or anything like that. We are pretty sure this is what it is. But it’s anything on your hand and when you put a bat in your hand with the vibration, it’s always concerning. We’ll hopefully get the swelling out of there and we’ll have him back in no time at all.”
When he does come back, Marte will have to do some things differently to protect the thumb.
“He has a protective pad, but I guess he only wears it sometimes,” Servais said. “He will be encouraged to wear that going forward.”
Taylor was scratched from the Rainiers starting lineup just before first pitch on Saturday night. He grabbed a redeye flight that took him from Seattle to Charlotte and then into Cincinnati this morning. The travel schedule is a reason why Servais decided to start O’Malley on Sunday despite Taylor being better defensively.
“Chris will be available and ready to go,” Servais said. “We’ll get him into the game if we need a double switch later on.”
Taylor was hitting .294 with an .834 on-base plus slugging percentage, including 14 doubles, three triples, two homers, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases in 39 games with the Rainiers.
While Servais wouldn’t say that Taylor will be the every day shortstop, he’ll likely make the majority of starts until Marte is healthy enough to return. Seattle went with Taylor over Luis Sardinas, who had been on the Mariners’ roster as the utility infielder until last week. Sardina beat Taylor and O’Malley out of for the utility infield job in spring training, but was sent back to Tacoma to get some regular at-bats.
Why Taylor over Sardinas this time?
“You have to trust the people within the organization, the people that are seeing these guys every day,” Servais said. “Obviously, they felt he was the best choice at this time. That’s what we are built on is everybody being on the same page and everybody trusting what they do. I’ve been on the back end of those calls so I know what it is all about. He has been playing very well, swinging the bat good, controlling the strikezone and doing all the things he does.”
Admittedly, Taylor didn’t play well during the spring training competition for the utility job. He looked tight in the field with uncharacteristic errors and mechanical and tentative at the plate. Servais thought he was “pressing.”
“When you are struggling it’s going to look like that,” Taylor said. “Part of it, I made some mechanical adjustments (at the plate) in the offseason. And I expected to come in and for it to be able to work right away and it doesn’t always work like that. And I was fighting some of my old moves which made it more difficult. It’s something you have to work through. That’s actually what spring training is for, but it makes it tough in the situation I was in where I was competing. There was pressure on me to play well. I had to go through that to get to where I’m at now and how I feel. Now, I feel good. It was for the best.”
Taylor credited Rainiers’ hitting coach Scott Brosius for finding a minor tweak to his swing that has made him feel more comfortable at the plate.
“Just one slight mechanical adjustment and everything kind of clicked from there,” Taylor said. “I have a move with my back elbow that I make and it was causing me to be late. I kind of just started with the elbow up a little higher and it worked.”