Seager has a torn tendon in his left hand. He will miss at least a month if not more.
PEORIA, Ariz. — After an offseason in which he reshaped his body and readjusted his swing in hopes of a bounce-back year in 2019, Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager will miss the first month of the season and possibly more.
Monday afternoon — just three days before the team embarks to Japan to open the season against the A’s — Seattle manager Scott Servais announced Seager would have surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left hand Tuesday in Phoenix. The procedure will be performed by renowned hand specialist Dr. Donald Sheridan.
“He is going to be out for a period of time,” Servais said. “I don’t have the exact timetable when to expect him to return to playing. I will find out more when he has the surgery tomorrow. I know he will be out the month of April, but after that I don’t know how long he will be.”
The torn tendon is near the knuckle of his middle finger. Seager had his hand bandaged and the finger immobilized.
“He explained it to me,” Seager said. “You have tendons all over going down your fingers and everything. There’s tendons that go side-to-side that stabilize everything. I tore some of the tendons in there. I’ll go in there tomorrow and they’ll kind of stitch it back together and then I’ll be out of commission for a little while.”
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The recovery isn’t simple. The hand and finger will be immobilized and he’ll eventually have to build back a range of motion and strength.
“You won’t be able to move it for a while and then you can gradually start bending your fingers,” he said. “I think a lot of it will go on the rehab part of it — how quickly I can get through that type of stuff. He really didn’t give too definitive of a time thing, but I think it’s going to be a little while. I won’t be in Japan, let’s put it that way.”
Seager seemed accepting of the news. He wasn’t bitter. But he had prided himself on playing through pain, being available every day and avoiding the injured list — formerly the disabled list.
“It definitely sucks,” he said. “This will be the first time for me that you have to go on the DL. That’s something that I was proud of. Anytime you don’t get to go out there with your teammates and your guys and all that stuff, it’s hard.”
The frustration is a little more biting considering all the work he put in during the offseason. He arrived to camp 20-plus pounds lighter with increased flexibility and core and leg strength. He’d also settled on a swing that he’d felt would be more viable and consistent than in past years.
“This is our job and this is part of it unfortunately,” he said. “It is what it is. I did have a successful winter, and that doesn’t necessarily take away from that. There’s still things that you can continue to work on when I’m doing this. It sucks, it’s not something I really wanted to happen, but we’ll deal with it and we’ll rehab and get through it.”
The injury occurred Friday night against the Cubs. He dove for a ground ball down the line off the bat of Javy Baez. Seager landed awkwardly and rolled over his glove. His hand and fingers in the glove bent backward instead of rolling forward.
“It was strange,” he said. “I’ve dived for balls I don’t know how many times. I dived awkwardly, I kind of rolled and landed awkwardly, but I’ve done that 100 times. It was a strange play and I was out there squeezing the glove. I could still squeeze it. It kind of hurt to open it up. The trainers checked on me. I told them I was fine. And then (Jay) Bruce and Dee (Gordon) actually when there was a pitching change were kind of like, ‘Hey, what’s going on with you.’ They more or less pushed me off the field. Thankfully they did.”
After the game, Seager was asked about the hand and he said he didn’t think it was too serious. But the team’s medical staff wanted to be certain.
“The doctor that I saw on the field, he was a little worried about it, obviously,” Seager said. “But he was like, ‘No, let’s go see a hand specialist, let’s go get an MRI, let’s get an X-ray, let’s see what’s going on with this thing.’ So, I mean, definitely a little bit worried right out of the gate with that stuff, but it was something I’d done. I’ve felt myself roll on it so many times. It’s kind of like, it’ll be fine, maybe give it a day or two and we’ll be good to go. But, the next day it had swollen up pretty big. So that wasn’t too good.”
It appears the Mariners will now turn to Ryon Healy to play third base the bulk of the time. Healy has started the past two games at third base in Seager’s absence. And he will play there going forward with either of the utility player candidates — Dylan Moore or Kris Negron — as possibilities. Seager’s injury gives Healy a chance to remain on the big-league roster. He previously was ticketed for Class AAA Tacoma after the Japan trip because of a logjam of players at first base and designated hitter. Another option would be to move shortstop Tim Beckham to third base and play prospect J.P. Crawford at shortstop. But the Mariners would prefer to have Crawford start at Tacoma this season.
“The thing you take for granted is writing guys’ names in the lineup every day,” Servais said. “But life goes on. Baseball goes on. The league is not going to stop and wait for Kyle Seager to get healthy, so we keep playing and try to figure it out and get somebody else in there. It may create an opportunity for somebody else to really step up and take it and run with it. But it’s disheartening. It’s tough when you figure he’s your everyday guy and you fire him in there for 140 to 150 games. It won’t be quite as many this year.”
The Mariners can officially place Seager on the 10-day injured list on the morning on March 20 — the day of their first game against the A’s.