The Mariners began the season with a glut of first basemen. Suddenly, “Who’s on first?” could be a daily riddle for manager Scott Servais.
Ryon Healy, the Mariners’ regular first baseman last season, has been on the injured list since May 21 and could miss another month with a back injury that will require an epidural injection Tuesday.
Healy had been preparing for a rehab assignment earlier this month when he was dealt a setback.
“After four weeks, nothing was getting better, to my surprise and everyone’s surprise. I was just looking for answers,” Healy said Monday.
He visited a specialist in Los Angeles and has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spine.
“Once it flares up, everything bothers it,” Healy said. “I can’t sit or stand comfortably. You can imagine how rotating (swinging a bat) feels.”
The epidural should give Healy some pain relief, which he hopes will allow him to rehab and strengthen his back.
Servais said Healy could miss another three or four weeks. Healy didn’t want to rush his return this time.
“It’s hard for me to put a timetable on it. I think I did that the first couple weeks and I was really stressing myself with how badly I wanted to get back on the field,” Healy said. “I never want to go on the IL in general, and the fact that this ended up being this long of a thing has been frustrating.
“This is not a fun process for any of us, but obviously the spine is something that’s severe and it’s not something you really want to mess with. But we rehab this process, the epidural works, this shouldn’t be a problem ever again.”
The Mariners opened the season with four first baseman/designated hitter options in Healy, Daniel Vogelbach, Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce. Encarnacion and Bruce have both been traded.
Vogelbach has spent the majority of the season as the designated hitter — entering Monday, 46 of his starts had been as the DH, and 11 were at first — and the Mariners know his real value is with his bat.
But Servais said Vogelbach could see more time at first until Healy returns.
Austin Nola, who made his major-league debut Sunday, was slated to start at first for Monday against Kansas City, and utility infielders Dylan Moore and Tim Beckham also are options at first, Servais said.
Haniger cleared for light activity
Mitch Haniger, out indefinitely after suffering a ruptured testicle June 6, was scheduled to begin “light” activity Monday, Servais said. He is not supposed to swing a bat yet.
Haniger’s injury occurred when he fouled a fastball from Houston’s Justin Verlander directly into his groin area at T-Mobile Park. Haniger remained in the game until the seventh inning, and he had a surgical procedure to repair damage.