OAKLAND, Calif. — The helpless feeling of watching his teammates play without him will end for Kyle Seager Saturday afternoon at Oakland Coliseum.
It will feel like a baseball utopia to be back playing after being sidelined since spring training after tearing a tendon in his hand, which required surgery. Seager joined the Mariners in the Bay Area after a rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma and participated in the early and regular workouts Friday. The Mariners will activate him from the 60-day injured list on Saturday morning, and he’ll be in the starting lineup for the afternoon game. The Mariners will have to open a spot on the 40-man and active roster.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “This has been something new for me. It’s definitely been an adjustment. I feel good and I’m really excited.”
M’s manager Scott Servais could sense Seager’s eagerness to return.
“I’m looking forward to it, and he is too,” Servais said. “I can tell when I’m talking to him that he’s in good spirits and anxious to get his season underway. We’re anxious to get him out there.”
Seager suffered the injury while diving for a ground ball in a Cactus League game versus the Cubs on March 8. He landed awkwardly on his glove hand and rolled over on it, tearing the tendon off the bone in his hand. Surgery was needed days later and the Mariners later placed him on the 60-day injured list. Seager is back much earlier than expected. There was an initial belief that he wouldn’t return until mid-June.
“My timetable ended up going pretty quickly, but I don’t feel like I was rushed or anything,” he said. “I was on the 60-day, so there was set amount of time. There was no pressure to push it. I had the full time I needed. We hit all the milestones and we were hitting the milestones on an accelerated program and not because they were trying to push me out the door.
He’s had no issues with the hand since being cleared to play. During his rehab assignment, he hit .256 with a .617 OPS, two doubles and seven RBI in nine games.
“Physically I feel great,” Seager said. “As I was telling (Servais) earlier, I’m probably the most fresh guy in this room. Rehab assignment went good. I felt like I actually saw the ball pretty well. As far as my timing, there’s still some inconsistencies only playing a week or so. I kind of missed out on spring training, but my swing felt good, timing felt good, arms, legs everything feels ready to roll.”
Seager watched the highs of the early part of the season and the recent lows, agonizing about not being a part of either. He wanted to be there with the good and wanted to try and help fix the bad.
“No matter how the team is doing, you have that feeling,” he said. “I’m finding out when you are on the (injured list), you just want to be playing period. You just want to be back out there and helping one way or the other. How the team was doing is indifferent to that, you just want to be out there helping and playing with your guys.”
Seager’s playing time will be nearly every day, but not every day. At least not to start with as he rounds back into daily game activity.
“He wants to play about the first 15 in a row, but we’ll be smart,” Servais said. “Saturday and Sunday are day games here and we go back for the long homestand. There will be a day off on that homestand.”
- Hunter Strickland (lat strain) will likely throw off the mound next week when the team returns to T-Mobile Park. Strickland played long toss out to 110 feet at a high intensity and threw from his regular delivery on the flat ground. “Very aggressive when I was watching him play catch today,” Servais said. “He’ll start building up off the mound and then move to a live BP.”
- Right-hander Ryan Garton, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, has cleared waivers and was outrighted to Class AAA Tacoma. Garton, 29, made two appearances with the Mariners, posting a 12.00 ERA, allowing four earned runs in three innings pitched. He was 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 12 games with Tacoma before having his minor league contract selected.