Casey Sadler would love to be pitching for the Mariners this season, and Mariner fans wish he was doing that, too, after Sadler’s breakout season last year, when he did not allow a run in his final 29 appearances.
Sadler, 31, was ruled out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in March, but he has remained busy. He is at T-Mobile Park most mornings, is enjoying extra time with his family and recently rewarded his Twitter followers with a free cup of coffee.
Sadler sent out a bar code on Twitter on Monday, June 13, allowing his followers to get a free drink at Starbucks. The only thing Sadler asked was that people get just one, tweeting that when that happens, “it wildly restores my faith in humanity.”
Sadler and his wife, Marin, have done this several times over the past few years, “and we felt like (June 13) was a good day to do it,” he said.
Sadler said he started with $250, then he added some more money, as did some other people he doesn’t know, “and it was cool to see that.”
“You go into a Starbucks and you don’t have to buy your drink, and you would be surprised how many people pay that forward, which is cool,” Sadler said.
Sadler also gives back in other ways, and has taken an active interest in helping the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. That interest began when he was assigned No. 65 by the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was called up in 2014.
“I didn’t think anything of it and thought I would probably change (the number) at some point,” Sadler said.
But a church friend with cystic fibrosis told Sadler about the significance of the number 65: A young boy in the 1960s misheard “cystic fibrosis” as “65 roses,” and it stuck as a gentle way to refer to a dangerous, often deadly, inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs.
Learning that made the No. 65 special to Sadler, who asked James Paxton for permission to use it when he joined the Mariners.
Sadler has gotten involved with the Washington chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and last month, he helped with the 37th annual Cystic Fibrosis Mariners Care Golf Tournament.
Pittsburgh was the first of four organizations that gave up on Sadler by designating him for assignment.
The Chicago Cubs designated Sadler for assignment on Sept. 1, 2020. Four days later, the Mariners claimed him off waivers.
That move paid off. Sadler got into seven games that September, then came a remarkable season last year despite him missing May and June and most of July with a shoulder impingement.
Time and time again, Sadler came through for the Mariners. He allowed three earned runs all season (over 40 1/3 innings) and didn’t allow any over his final 27 2/3 innings. His 0.67 ERA was the lowest among big-league pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched.
“My (baseball) story has been quite the grind, but I’m very thankful of my journey,” he said. “But last year, being able to do that, was a culmination of what I always thought I could be. … Knowing that it’s in there, and knowing that there is more to come of that, that motivates me even more to get back, get healthy and back to where I was.”
Sadler said he had no idea of his scoreless appearances streak until late in the season.
“A reporter in Oakland came up to me and mentioned something about a streak, and I was, ‘What? I don’t know what you are talking about,’ ” Sadler said.
The reporter informed Sadler it was 25 (at the time).
Sadler, who is 11 short of Huston Street and Josh Hader’s record of 40 straight scoreless appearances, said he was so focused on helping the Mariners win that he hadn’t noticed.
His wife knew of the streak, “and I appreciate her for not saying anything,” he said.
Coming off such a great season, Sadler was extra excited for 2022, then came the bad news that he needed surgery.
“It just got to a point where the treatments weren’t helping,” he said.
Sadler missed the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he said this absence has been harder.
“Having ended last year the way I did, I was looking forward to spring training and continuing that, and continuing to help with the success of the team,” he said. “To have that put on the back burner was really hard. I really want to be out there. I know this is necessary and I know it is the best thing I could do in the long run, but it is really hard.”
It has been 12 weeks since Sadler had surgery to repair a posterior tear in his labrum and remove a cyst under his rotator cuff. Sadler said he feels “really good” but that it will be a while before he begins throwing.
“I am really excited to move forward,” said Sadler, who said he has to go through a prethrowing phase of his recovery before he can pick up a baseball.
Sadler finishes his workouts at T-Mobile about the same time his teammates arrive for that night’s game.
“It’s good to see them and talk to them, but I kind of want to stay out of the way,” he said.
There has been one bright spot of having more time off than hoped: more time with Marin and daughters Kaysen, 5, and Kinley, 10 months.
“That has been such a blessing, because we don’t get this,” Sadler said. “We get a lot of time in the offseason. but we’re still training and we’re still prepping. To be able to spend time with them in the summer months when the weather is just amazing — or usually amazing — is wonderful.
“Especially (Kinley), getting to see her crawl for the first time, and hopefully getting to see her walk for the first time, are things that I might have missed being on the road. That is huge because you don’t get those moments back. I will take as much time with them as I can get.”