When Kyle Seager is eligible to come off the 60-day injured list on May 25, he plans to be in the Mariners starting lineup that night at the Oakland Coliseum. And if he was eligible to return sooner, he’d still have the same expectation.
“Oh yeah, without a doubt,” he said.
If you watched Seager work out on the field before the last two games vs. the Cubs at T-Mobile Park, you wouldn’t know he’s still technically recovering from hand surgery in mid-March. He did everything else his fellow teammates did, participating in the early infield, taking extra ground balls and spraying baseballs all over the park during batting practice.
“He looked really good,” manager Scott Servais said. “I know he was happy with it, and I was, too, just watching it. Swinging easy, not really thinking about his hand at all. The ball was coming off his bat really well. First day out there, the coach is flipping it in there 50, 55 mph, but pretty good.”
There was some concern that the vibration of the bat when Seager hits baseballs at higher velocities might cause problems, but it hasn’t thus far.
“I thought it was going to be, but it honestly hasn’t,” he said. “I hit one off the end of the bat yesterday and it vibrated and it hurt my thumbs and didn’t my middle finger. So it’s all good there. I really don’t feel anything with it. The strength is all back. The mobility is there. Everything is good to go.”
Seager’s progression to being fully healthy has been rapid over the past few weeks. He first suffered the torn tendon in his left hand on a diving attempt for a ground ball on March 8. He underwent surgery a few days later with the initial projection not having him ready until mid-June. But thanks to a focused rehab and recovery with team physical therapist Ryan Bitzel and assistant strength and conditioning coach Derek Cantieni, Seager is well ahead of schedule and doesn’t even think about the injury to his hand.
“Now, I’m just back to thinking about how the actual swing was or how I’m fielding the ground ball,” he said. “It crept up the first time I swung a bat on the dry swings. It was ‘Is this going to hurt?’ And the first time I hit off the tee, you think about it. But I realized there was nothing there, now it no longer crosses my mind.”
Seager expects to be on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tacoma very soon. Given that the Mariners have 24 days until he can return, they can set up the plan accordingly.
“I played a little bit of spring training, but I didn’t get a full camp by any means,” he said. “I will go down there and play in a few games, but it shouldn’t be too long. Just go and play some games and get everything right and wait for May 25. I think having a little of bit of spring training helped. Obviously I’ve taken six or seven weeks off that doesn’t help. I’m sure I will go down for a week or 10 days, but I don’t know exactly for certain.”
It will be interesting when Seager comes back with what the Mariners do with their roster. Ryon Healy has been filling in at third base. When Seager returns, it will leave Healy, Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce and Daniel Vogelbach all vying for time at first base and designated hitter. Barring a trade, Healy would likely be optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. That was going to be the original plan had Seager not gotten injured.
Gilbert promoted to Modesto
Right-hander Logan Gilbert, the Mariners’ first-round pick from the 2018 draft, has been promoted to High-A Modesto after dominating the Low-A South Atlantic League for the West Virginia Power.
In four starts for West Virginia, Gilbert posted a 1-0 record with a 1.59 ERA (four earned runs in 22 2/3 innings pitched) with 36 strikeouts and four walks. Opponents were hitting just .118 (9 for 76) vs. Gilbert this season. He’s rated as the Mariners’ No. 7 overall prospect per Baseball America.