BOSTON — Two of the key pieces of the Mariners’ step-back plan have been added to the 25-man roster, though not under the most ideal of circumstances or on the expected timeline.
Shortstop J.P. Crawford and second baseman Shed Long, the Mariners’ middle infield of the future, arrived at Fenway Park together Friday afternoon. They took an early flight out of Sea-Tac to arrive in Boston for batting practice and Friday night’s game.
With Dee Gordon and Dylan Moore dealing with wrist injuries, the Mariners needed help to make it through the weekend series versus the Red Sox and the upcoming homestand. They made a series of roster moves to bring up the two prospects.
Moore was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right wrist contusion, and reliever Chasen Bradford was optioned to Tacoma to make room for Crawford and Long.
Manny Acta, who is serving as manager while Scott Servais is attending his daughter’s college graduation, said Gordon had additional scans Friday morning, which revealed no fractures.
“Great news,” Acta said. “Dee is just day to day. All the tests that they did, everything came out negative. It’s very good news for us. That being said, we can’t afford to play two infielders short, so that’s why we had to make some moves, so we could have the two extra infielders here.”
Gordon appeared during batting practice with his right wrist wrapped in ice. He said that the reasons they did the extra tests Friday was because the preliminary diagnosis after being hit by a pitch was that he had a fracture in his wrist. He was told to take a few days off before trying to resume baseball activity.
Crawford, who will wear No. 3, was inserted into the starting lineup at shortstop and batted seventh. Tim Beckham, who has been starting at shortstop, will shifted to second base.
The Mariners acquired Crawford from Philadelphia along with first baseman Carlos Santana in a trade that sent shortstop Jean Segura and relievers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos to the Phillies. A once highly-touted prospect, Crawford has seen his stock fall after a few inconsistent call-ups with the Phillies, which made him available in the offseason.
He was slated to be the Mariners’ shortstop of the future after the trade. However, the team decided to not rush Crawford’s development. The Mariners signed Beckham with the plan of having Crawford start the season with Tacoma to work on some changes to his swing and to clean up some bad defensive habits before calling him up permanently. MLB sources said the Mariners also wanted to monitor Crawford’s service time by starting him in Tacoma, preventing him from reaching free agency a year earlier.
“He had been doing everything we asked him to do and is playing very well,” Acta said. “He’s getting on base, controlling the zone and he put a lot of work in during spring training with Perry Hill and has continued to do that. Eventually he was going to be up here. He’s ready to go. He’s going to have his opportunity to play.”
Crawford has been outstanding for the Rainers. He had a .319/.420/.457 slash line with seven doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI. He had reached base in all 31 games with the Rainiers. He was pulled from the Rainiers’ starting lineup just before Thursday’s game at Cheney Stadium shortly after Gordon was hit by J.A. Happ’s 90-mph fastball and was forced to leave the game.
“I was staying with an approach and really sticking to it,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t chasing pitches out of my zone. Hopefully, I can carry that to here and have the same success.”
Long, who was acquired in a trade with the Reds for minor league outfielder Josh Stowers, will wear No. 39. He had a .276/.350/.504 slash line with five doubles, tour triples, five homers and 21 RBI in 32 games.
He played in Thursday night’s Rainiers game and was notified postgame about being called up. It took four calls to his parents home in Alabama before they woke up and he could deliver the news. After getting everything packed, he went to sleep at 2:15 a.m. and his alarm went off at 3:15 a.m. so he could get his 6:50 a.m. flight.
“I’m running on straight adrenaline,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s a blessing. It’s what I worked for all my life. It’s so surreal. It’s such a dream. This offseason I worked so hard, and I said I have to get to the big leagues this year. And all the hard work has paid off.”
Acta said that Crawford and Long will likely start Saturday with Boston starting right-hander Rick Porcello.
Moore injured the wrist in Wednesday’s win over the Yankees, after getting hit by a pitch. He was forced into playing in Thursday night’s loss despite not being able to swing the bat and barely throw a baseball. The Mariners aren’t expecting it to be lengthy IL stint.
Despite being one of the Mariners’ more effective relievers, Bradford was sent down because he is one of the few relievers that has minor league options.