ARLINGTON, Texas — What the Mariners hoped to be just minor hamstring discomfort for shortstop J.P. Crawford now appears to be something closer to a strain.
Kept out of the starting lineup Saturday because of the tightness in his left hamstring, Crawford underwent a MRI and the results were concerning enough that he will fly back to Seattle immediately to have team doctors have examine him.
“J.P. is going to be down for a while,” manager Scott Servais said. “I don’t know how bad it is. They are going to talk about it. They want to run him through some more tests when he gets back there and see where he’s at. My guess is he’s going to be out at least probably a week or two. But it could be worse.”
Crawford felt some tightness in the game Thursday night, and aggravated it more coming out of the batter’s box the following night.
With only a month left in the season, Crawford might make it back to play in only a handful of games. It would be a disappointing end to a first year with the organization that started off with plenty of promise and production, but has cooled in the past few months. After starting the season with Class AAA Tacoma and waiting through some service time manipulation by the team, Crawford was called up May 10 and assumed the starting shortstop duties.
While he automatically brought stability to an awful infield defense by simply not being Tim Beckham, he also got off to a torrid start at the plate, slashing .290/.355/.449 with eight doubles, a homer and nine RBI in his first 19 games.
Predictably, there was a regression to a more expected level and also a period of extreme struggles. Over his past 43 games, he’s slashed .197/.289/.318 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers and 16 RBI. Even with second-half struggles, he’s still expected to be the Mariners’ opening-day shortstop next season. And losing a month of games at the MLB level isn’t ideal for his development.
“It’s disappointing,” Servais said. “It will affect our plans a little bit.”
Dylan Moore will handle the bulk of the shortstop duties with Dee Gordon also filling in from game to game. Servais wasn’t certain if they would bring up an additional infielder who could play shortstop as a September call-up. The Mariners’ initial plans for September call-ups didn’t necessarily include more infielders with Moore and Tim Lopes already on the roster and Shed Long as a potential call-up candidate. Crawford’s injury could force an addition.
It seems likely Donnie Walton, the No. 28-ranked prospect in the organization per MLB Pipeline, will get a call up after Class AA Arkansas’ postseason run. He’s been the starting shortstop for the Travelers for more than 100 games this season. Walton is slashing .298/.389/.422 with 22 doubles, two triples, 11 homers and 50 RBI in 123 games. Seattle also is expected to call up outfielder Kyle Lewis and right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn from Arkansas.
The Mariners added five players to their roster Sunday with all players on the 40-man roster now becoming active. Right-handed pitchers Dan Altavilla, Brandon Brennan and Austin Adams and outfielder Braden Bishop were all activated from the injured list as expected. They’d been with the team working out the past few days. Seattle also brought back first baseman/outfielder Ryan Court to add some depth.
Bishop was immediately inserted in the starting lineup Sunday for the series finale. Jake Fraley, who left the team for personal reasons Saturday, will re-join the team Monday in Chicago.
Bishop missed 73 games after undergoing surgery for a lacerated spleen. He suffered the injury after taking a 95-mph fastball to his rib cage while playing with Class AAA Tacoma days before he was recalled to the Mariners because of the injury to Mitch Haniger. Bishop was unaware he had damaged his spleen, but he felt discomfort in his neck and shoulder – a symptom of the issue – and was forced out of his first game back. He underwent surgery less than 24 hours later.
“I’m happy for him to get back,” Servais said. “To have it play out how it did is pretty wild. Thank God we got him out of the game and got him checked on and got it taken care of.”
The plan is for Bishop to get plenty of game action to make up for his missed time. He moves ahead of Keon Broxton and Lopes on the outfield depth chart.
“He’ll play a lot,” Servais said. “We want to get him some exposure here in September.”