As Sam Haggerty writhed in pain in the dirt behind second base following an awkward feet-first slide on his easy steal of second base, manager Scott Servais couldn’t hide a look of concerned frustration as he and athletic trainer Kevin Orlovsky hurried on to the field to check on his player.

With the Mariners first postseason series just days away, Servais had two priorities — sweep the Tigers and possibly secure the first wild-card spot and a series at T-Mobile Park and keep his players healthy.

Neither happened on Monday night. The Mariners lost 4-3, and the Blue Jays clinched the top wild-card spot. And with Haggerty’s pain in his left groin so intense that Servais and Orlovsky had to help him off the field, the Mariners manager knew he would be without the speedy and versatile utility player for that wild-card series.

Mariners will open playoffs on road at either Toronto or Cleveland

Before Tuesday’s doubleheader vs. the Tigers, the Mariners placed Haggerty on the 10-day injured list with a groin strain and recalled infielder Abraham Toro from Class AAA Tacoma to take his spot on the roster.

“The initial look from the MRI was that he didn’t need surgery,” Servais said.


That surgery was even a possibility speaks to the severity of the injury. If the Mariners were able to win the wild-card series, Haggerty wouldn’t be eligible to return till midway through the American League Division Series. Given the nature of the strain, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to return. He was on crutches on Tuesday morning.

Haggerty started the game in place of Jesse Winker, who was scratched from Monday’s game with a stiff neck. Even if Winker had started, Haggerty likely would’ve been in the game in some way.

“Things happen, and Sam has to play the way Sam plays,” Servais said. “You get a two-out hit in the ninth and we are down by one and he’s got the green light so he takes off first pitch. He’s got the base stolen rather easily. It was just an awkward slide. I feel bad for him.”

Besides the pain in his groin, Servais said that Haggerty was crushed about missing the wild-card series.

“I texted him last night to remind tell that he has been really important to what we’ve done this year,” Servais said. “He’s helped us win a number of games and in all different aspects of the game with his baserunning, his defense and getting a big hit. It’s been a phenomenal year for him. But stuff happens. We have to keep moving down the road.”

Haggerty, 28, played in 83 games for Seattle this season, posting a .256/.335/.403 slash line with a nine doubles, a triple, five homers, 23 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He was a valuable player off the bench as a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement in the outfield. He was expected to serve as a platoon left fielder with Jarred Kelenic in left field for the wild-card series.


“There’s no question he was going to play in that series,” Servais said. “I don’t know if he’d start a game or not, but he was going to end up in the game. Usually when he comes in, the game is close and it’s late and it’s tight. And we all trust him. He makes plays. He steals bases. He can do all the little things to help you win those close games. And that’s one of the reasons we’re so good at those close games.”

With Haggerty’s injury, the Mariners will be without a key reserve off the bench. There is no simple way of replacing him.

“It will affect some decisions here as we get closer to making our decision with where we’re at with our playoff roster,” Servais said. “Getting Toro back here right now certainly helps. This a challenging day with a doubleheader this time of year with a limited roster and you are trying to keep guys healthy.”

The Mariners can have a 26-man roster with a maximum of 13 pitchers. But Seattle will likely carry 11 or 12 pitchers, favoring extra position players.

“In a three-game series, you do not need 13 pitchers even if it’s three games in a row,” he said. “With your relievers, you typically don’t go three games in a row. When you’re in the playoffs, you pitch three games in a row. I’ll just leave it at that. If you’re healthy and you’re good to go, you’ve got to do what you can to try to win the game and win a series.”

The Mariners have had meetings on their possible postseason rosters. And they have a pretty good idea of the players they plan to take. But the last two players might be based on who they are playing in the wild card — Toronto or Cleveland.


“You can’t get too far down the road because we don’t know who we’re gonna play yet,” he said. “The opponent does dictate on where you go as far as playoff roster goes. It’s bullpen matchups with our bullpen and what that lineup looks like. One team may have more handedness in the lineup (left or right) than another team. It’s what the other team’s bullpen looks like and what their starting rotation looks like.”

The possibilities are thoroughly analyzed.

“We’ve got all the metrics with all the numbers that shoot out what are the best matchups and what players could play the biggest role,” he said. “You listen, you take in all the information in and try to make good decisions on it.”


Marco Gonzales, who was scheduled to start on Tuesday, will instead start on Wednesday afternoon in the regular-season finale. The decision was made after Monday’s loss, knowing Seattle couldn’t get a home series.

Logan Gilbert, who was scheduled to start in the finale if the first wild card was at stake, will now get additional rest and possibly start Game 3 of the wild-card series.

“It’s just make sure we’ve got all our options available to start games, whether it’s Toronto or Cleveland,” Servais said. “We thought the other four guys maybe matched up a little bit better than Marco.”

That means Gonzales likely won’t be on the postseason roster for the wild-card series. The Mariners could re-add him to the roster if they make the American League Division Series. Rosters can be adjusted after each round of the playoffs.

The Mariners brought up left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield as the extra player allowed for a doubleheader. He was scheduled to start the nightcap.