Even through the two-dimensional constraints of a video call, the mixture of dejection and frustration emanating from Kendall Graveman’s voice as he described the discomfort in his neck that has appeared at varying times over the past four seasons was palpable.
“It’s something I’ve dealt with for quite some time now,” he said. “I’ve been told it can’t get any worse than it is. I’ve seen a lot of doctors for it. We’ll continue to move forward and hopefully get some answers.”
After missing the last two seasons with elbow issues, he doesn’t want to have this, well, pain in the neck become more than that and keep him off the mound for any length of time, including his next turn in the rotation.
And while Graveman said after Sunday’s outing, where he pitched through the pain and gave Seattle a start that was better than his numbers showed, that continuing to pitch won’t make the neck issue worse, the Mariners had him meeting with team doctors on Monday.
The results of those meetings and the various tests and the MRI were not available to manager Scott Servais when he spoke to the media on a video call before Monday’s game against the A’s.
Graveman started to feel the discomfort in his neck coming on during his first start of the season in Houston (July 27). In the week leading up to Sunday’s start, the discomfort had quieted and allowed him to have a normal week. But on Sunday morning, the pain returned as he started throwing pitches with maximum effort.
“I think it affected him quite a bit,” Servais said. “Quite honestly, it wasn’t near the crispness to his stuff, or velocity. I tip my hat to him because he hung in there and was really a couple inches away from walking out of there with five innings of scoreless ball. It was pretty impressive.”
Even though Graveman was relatively effective pitching through the issue, it seems unlikely the Mariners would put him back out there for his next start if it doesn’t improve in the next few days. Servais hopes that team doctors come back with a positive prognosis.
But he also has considered alternatives if Graveman can’t make that start vs. the Rockies.
“You always have contingency plans, who is the next guy we go to and things like that,” Servais said. “But until we get clarification from the doctor and talk to Gravey and see where he’s at, we’re not going to say anything there. Hopefully he can make his next start.”
Those continency plans likely don’t include selecting the contract of top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert, who is making starts at the alternate training site in Tacoma. The Mariners could turn to one of three lefty long relievers in the bullpen – Nick Margevicius, Nestor Cortes or Anthony Misiewicz.
But the easiest solution would be to just go to a five-man rotation for a turn and take advantage of the offday on Aug. 13.
“With how we’re spread out with six starters and next week we have an off-day, so maybe he misses one start and that one start you can kind of spread out over almost two weeks.”
— While the real reason that the Mariners closed the roof at T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon despite sunny weather and no rain in the forecast was due to the protocols agreed on by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association and providing shaded covering for players practicing social distancing and sitting in the stands, there was also another benefit. Players noticed that during day games, there is a difficult reflection from the sun off the cardboard cutouts of the Mariners’ Seat Fleet positioned behind home plate.
“As bright as it was yesterday and it’s awesome that we have all those cutouts of fans, but is hard to pick the ball up for our infielders with as many as there are out there,” Servais said. “I know they are green seats, but you really don’t see the green seats with all the cutouts. But the main thing is it’s the protocol. You know there has to be covered area for the players, we certainly have a roof. So we may we may end up closing the roof on the day game, it’s hard to do when it’s a beautiful day like yesterday.”
The protocol was really made for open-air stadiums with sweltering summer heat, like in St. Louis, Washington D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and other cities. Those places have put up tent coverings in the stands.
— There is an outside chance that reliever Austin Adams could join the Mariners on the upcoming road trip that starts on Aug. 10 against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas. The Mariners are hoping to have Adams throw at least one simulated game in the coming days and then possibly activate him from the 45-day injured list. Adams cannot join the Mariners mid-road trip. He has to be a part of the original traveling party.