The Mariners will be without their starting center fielder and cleanup hitter for at least the first homestand of the 2021 season.
Kyle Lewis, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, will start the season on the injured list, Mariners manager Scott Servais announced before Wednesday’s workout at T-Mobile Park.
“We are going to hold him back,” Servais said. “He does have a pretty deep bone bruise in his right knee. Could he go? Possibly. But this is a training staff and my call. We are in it for the long haul here, and playing the long game and what this season is going to take just having everybody moving forward for the big chunk of the season, so Kyle is going to be out a little bit to start the season.”
The Mariners can make the start of his injured-list stint retroactive to three days before opening day, meaning Lewis would be eligible to return for the first road trip of the season April 8.
Lewis injured his knee during a Cactus League game vs. the Dodgers on March 22, trying to make a leaping catch against the wall. The Mariners initially thought it was just a minor contusion and kept him out of the lineup the next two games as a precaution. But when the inflammation and discomfort was slow to subside, Lewis underwent an MRI which revealed a bone bruise. Given his history with the right knee, which includes two surgeries, the Mariners were cautious.
Lewis didn’t participate in Wednesday’s workout. The injured-list stint will allow him to face some live batting-practice sessions from pitchers at the alternate training site to try and correct any timing issues due to the extended absence. The hope is that it will only be a 10-day stint.
“I think so, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Servais said. “In my mind, I want to give him probably a couple weeks just to make sure it is 100%. It is not at 100% right now, and I do not want to risk running him out there and have something else happen. His knee is totally fine (other than the bone bruise). It’s structurally fine.”
The Mariners will move Taylor Trammell to center field with either Jake Fraley or Jose Marmolejos starting in left field.
Trammell was the surprise of spring training, forcing his way into consideration for the starting left-field job with his early play and raising that level to win a spot. It was a special moment when he was able to call his family on Saturday and tell them he was headed to the big leagues.
“There were a lot of tears,” he said. “I’m not afraid to admit it. I cried a lot just because this is something that I’ve dreamt of all my life, especially the day I got drafted. It was just something that was a goal of mine. I took like two days to live in the moment and just take it all in. But now is where the work starts and I’m really excited to go through this journey in my career.”
The commitment Trammell’s family made to him as a kid, allowing him to chase the baseball dream is not lost on him. His mom, dad, brother, fiancée and two friends will be part of the 9,000 people allowed in the stands at T-Mobile Park.
“It is going to be a special moment tomorrow when I go out on that field for the first time as a major league player,” he said, “It kind of sounds weird to say right now because, wow, it’s just unbelievable. I’m extremely happy that they’re here, and they’re able to celebrate this time with me.”
The Mariners have switched up their starting rotation, moving James Paxton from the No. 2 spot to the No. 5 spot and trading places with Yusei Kikuchi.
“Looking at how the spring played out with Pax, I just want to give him plenty of time before it gets going and cranking it up,” Servais said. “He threw the ball really well the last couple times out, but you remember he was a little slow to get going into the A games. I think it picks up the intensity quite a bit, so it just gives him a couple more days to make sure he’s good to go his first time out there. Kikuchi is on normal rest, so we’ve kind of had it lined up so we could go either way as we got through spring training. This made the most sense.”
The rotation slots out this way:
- Thursday vs. Giants: Marco Gonzales
- Friday vs. Giants: Yusei Kikuchi
- Saturday vs. Giants: Chris Flexen
- Sunday: Off day
- Monday vs. White Sox: Justus Sheffield,
- Tuesday vs. White Sox: James Paxton
- Wednesday vs. White Sox: Justin Dunn
Following a MLB memo that said if 85% of the players on a team were vaccinated, certain COVID guidelines would be relaxed, several teams made an effort to get players vaccinated in the past few days.
The Mariners have been cautious about “jumping the line” for vaccinations or receiving preferential treatment.
“First of all, it’s got to be accessible,” he said. “From what I understand, we just got back into the state of Washington, it is not accessible age-wise to our players here. Down in Arizona, they did lower the standards down there age-wise so it was accessible down there, but I have not had a lot of in-depth talk with our players. But ultimately, it is up to the players. It is a personal decision whether they want to get vaccinated or not. I hope that most of them will at some point. I think it’s the best thing to do.”
Servais made those comments before the state announced Wednesday that anyone over age 16 would be eligible after April 15. The Mariners return from their first road trip on April 16. But the policy of not wanting preferential treatment would likely remain.
Mariners 26-man opening-day roster:
Starting Rotation (6)
- Marco Gonzales, LHP
- Yusei Kikuchi, LHP
- Chris Flexen, RHP
- Justus Sheffield, LHP
- James Paxton, LHP
- Justin Dunn, RHP
- Rafael Montero, RHP (closer)
- Keynan Middleton, RHP
- Kendall Graveman, RHP
- Casey Sadler, RHP
- Will Vest, RHP
- Drew Steckenrider, RHP
- Anthony Misiewicz, LHP
- Nick Margevicius, LHP
- Jake Fraley, LF
- Mitch Haniger, RF
- Taylor Trammell, LF
- Jose Marmolejos, LF/1B
- Kyle Seager, 3B
- J.P. Crawford, SS
- Dylan Moore, 2B
- Evan White, 1B
- Ty France, IF
- Sam Haggerty, Utility
- Tom Murphy
- Luis Torrens