At this point, it’s uncertain whether Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto was watching a livestream when it happened, or his phone melted down from text messages when the news appeared on social media — he hasn’t responded to text queries.
But when prized prospect Julio Rodriguez took a pitch off his right wrist on Monday night while playing in the Dominican Republic, it was an unsettling feeling for all involved with the Mariners.
Luckily for Rodriguez and the Mariners, the damage wasn’t severe. The pitch didn’t come from a pitcher throwing 95-plus mph, but instead a soft-tossing sidearm pitcher. Also it wasn’t his left wrist, which he fractured during summer camp workout in July or his left hand where he suffered fractured metacarpal early in the 2019 season.
Rodriguez remained in the game — the at-bat came in the 12th inning of a 9-6 win for his team Escogido Del Leones — and later provided his own medical diagnosis on Twitter, saying: “Wrist is good…thank to God!! Ready to keep balling out here!!”
Rodriguez went 1 for 3 in the game with two RBI and was also hit by another pitch on the rear end. He also stole a base and worked a walk.
In a normal year, Rodriguez would’ve been either be working out at the Mariners facility in Peoria, Arizona, as part of their annual high performance camp or working at on his own back in New Jersey with family or in his native Dominican Republic.
But this year has been anything but normal. With the 2020 minor league season canceled and Rodriguez unable to participate in intrasquad games at the alternate training site due to a broken left wrist, they allowed their top prospect and 39 other players to participate in the Arizona Instructional League — which the organization has skipped in recent years — to get some of the lost time back.
The bigger concession was allowing Rodriguez to play a full season in the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League, known as Lidom (Liga Dominicana) for its Spanish name, Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana, this winter. Normally, a team, operating out of the fear of injury, would never allow a top prospect to play more than a handful of games — if at all — in the winter leagues unless there were extenuating circumstances like, well, a season-canceling global pandemic.
The Mariners are hoping that playing a full season against older, established players in Lidom for Escogido will help offset some of the lost at-bats, innings, games and development of a regular minor league season. He’s hoping to play in 50 games including the postseason. It was a dream come true for Rodriguez, who grew up in the DR and dreamed of playing in Lidom.
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