Manager Scott Servais confirmed that young outfielder Julio Rodriguez has officially been cleared to participate in workouts moving forward after meeting intake protocols to be allowed into T-Mobile Park. Rodriguez arrived in Seattle five days ago but had to wait to meet all the requirements.
Rodriguez played catch briefly with Jarred Kelenic before Thursday morning’s workouts, and he participated in Friday morning’s closed workout at T-Mobile Park for players that weren’t participating in the first intrasquad scrimmage later that afternoon.
Servais will let Rodriguez ease back into the workouts before getting him into games.
“You won’t see Julio in a game for a couple, three days,” Servais said. “We’ll get him up to speed. We’re excited to have him on the field. We’re looking forward to that. Everybody knows the energy he brings. He and Noelvi Marte are the best of friends, so they’ll both have big smiles on their faces as they go through the workouts and get going in the games here, that’s for sure. Julio is healthy and feels great. He’s anxious to get out there.”
With Rodriguez now practicing, that leaves at least four players that have yet to take part in the summer-camp workouts that started on July 3: outfielder Mallex Smith, utility player Dylan Moore, reliever Yoshihisa Hirano and catcher Joe Hudson.
Per the operating agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, the Mariners cannot comment on the status of players that aren’t participating due to circumstances surrounding the testing for COVID-19. Even now that Rodriguez is cleared, the Mariners aren’t allowed to say why he was delayed, but Rodriguez can talk about it if he chooses.
Rated as the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect in the organization by Baseball America and the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball, Rodriguez is considered a future star by not only people within in the organization but multiple opposing scouts.
Last season, he posted a combined .326/.390/.540 slash line in 84 games between Low-A West Virginia and High-A Modesto with 26 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 69 RBI, 25 walks and 76 strikeouts in 367 plate appearance.
Rodriguez’s gregarious and infectious personality and the joy with which he plays were evident as an invite to MLB spring training in Arizona. Even though he struggled in Cactus League games, notching two singles in 15 plate appearances, his enthusiasm never wavered, which pleased the Mariners.
He is the most touted position-player prospect in the organization since Adam Jones and possibly Alex Rodriguez.
MLB, MLBPA release updated testing numbers
Major League Baseball in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association released the full results of the “intake screening” for players and staff seeking clearance to participate in summer camp.
Of the 3,748 samples taken, there were 66 positive tests (1.8 percent). Of the 66 positive tests, 58 came from players, with eight from staff members.
Of the 30 teams in MLB, 27 had at least one person test positive on intake testing.
After the intake testing, players, field staff and other staff, who are under Tier 1, are then tested every other day for the remainder of the season while Tier 2 individuals are tested multiple times a week. This process has been labeled “monitoring testing.”
As of Friday morning, there have been 7,401 samples collected in the monitoring testing with 17 new positive tests (0.2 percent) — 13 players and four staff members. The 17 positive tests came from 10 different teams.
The combined total of intake and monitoring testing yielded 11,149 samples with 83 positive tests (0.7 percent) from 28 of 30 teams — 71 players and 12 staff members.
Based on the operating manual agreed upon for summer camp, each team could have three exhibition games against other teams in the lead-up to opening day.
But given the geographical barriers for the Mariners, they decided to eschew those exhibtion games and play intrasquad games instead.
For teams in Los Angeles/San Diego, Chicago, New York, the Bay Area and even Texas and Florida, there are easy options. Seattle didn’t want to fly anywhere to do that. So GM Jerry Dipoto and Servais decided they will stay home.
“In an ideal world, if we could drive down the street and play another team, that would be awesome,” Servais said. “But whether it was going to Houston a couple days early to play a couple exhibition games against them or going somewhere else before we went to Houston, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me or Jerry when we talked about it.
“I think we’re doing the right thing. The goal here is to stay healthy and stay safe and get to the season. I think that’s something that could kind of derail that. So I’m not that worried about it. I think we will create a competitive environment here, hopefully keep our guys healthy and ready to go when the bell rings.”