The Mariners have been hit by pitches more than any other team in the American League. And they aren't pleased about it.
As expected, Nelson Cruz was out of the Mariners’ lineup on Wednesday afternoon because of a severe bone bruise on the top of his right foot. Cruz was hit by an 85-mph slider from lefty Brandon Mann on Tuesday night and had to leave the game.
“Nelly is sore,” Servais said. “He got smoked pretty good. We’re actually really lucky. Fortunate for us, nothing is broken. But he’s going to be out a couple days.”
The Mariners haven’t placed him on the disabled list and hope they won’t need to in the coming days.
“At this point, no,” Servais said. “Nelson has one of the highest pain thresholds of anybody I’ve been around. We’ll see how it is later today and going forward tomorrow. He’ll get some treatment a few times a day and hopefully calm it down.”
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What hasn’t calmed down is the number of times the Mariners have been hit by pitches this season. Seattle leads the American League with 24. The last two batters to be hit by pitches were Robinson Cano, who suffered a broken hand, and Cruz.
Kyle Seager has been hit four times this season, which is tied for the most on the team with Cruz and Dee Gordon.
Why is this happening?
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s a good question. I do feel like we’ve been hit a lot. Knowing that we lead the league, it makes sense. I think that’s kind of where you look at it and where you would throw to us, a lot of guys on this team you are going to want to attack up and in and up and in is a hole with everyone. Hopefully it’s just a couple of balls getting away from people.”
And yet, intent or lack thereof doesn’t matter to Seager. The far-too-often result of getting hit by a pitch of any sort is an issue.
“It’s very, very, very frustrating watching your best players getting hurt on hit by pitches,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “That’s a very frustrating thing.”
Manager Scott Servais was more philosophical than reactionary.
“How they are getting hit? Why they are getting hit? A lot of it is bad breaking balls where pitchers are flying open and the ball comes off,” he said. “It’s hard to say someone is throwing at somebody. I don’t think they were throwing at Nelson Cruz last night. I don’t think we’ve been in a situation like that.”
And yet …
“But it does get frustrating and you kind of get tired of it,” he said. “The ball that gets away in Detroit and hits Cano and Cruz certainly gets hit a lot. They want to keep them honest inside because they know how much power they’ve got. But it does come a point where enough is enough. We have gotten hit a lot. I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than what it is. But it’s something we have to be aware of.
*** Dee Gordon was out taking more groundballs at second base before Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. He was in the starting lineup in centerfield for the game. When do the Mariners expect him to be ready to return to second base with Robinson Cano suspended for 80 games?
“Dee told me yesterday he’s good to go,” Servais said. “But he needs a couple days. I want him to get some live (groundballs) off the bat (Thursday) in batting practice and see the speed of the ball. Probably this weekend at some point we’ll slide him in.”
When Gordon moves to second base, Guillermo Heredia will assume the bulk of the playing time in centerfield. The Mariners could still eventually add another outfielder to share time with Heredia in center and Ben Gamel in left field.
*** The Mariners had to make a roster movebefore Wednesday afternoon’s game to put right-handed pitcher Christian Bergman, who was making the spot start that day, on the active roster.
Bergman’s minor league contract was selected from Class AAA Tacoma. To make room, the Mariners designated reliever Erik Goeddel for assignment. The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings to get the win in Tuesday night’s extra inning victory over the Rangers.
But with a tired bullpen and Goeddel unavailable for a handful of days because of the heavy workload, he was the roster casualty.
“Erik threw a lot of pitches last night and has really done a nice job for us since coming up,” Servais said. “I like how he does it, with the high fastball and split, it’s a little different than anybody else we have in our bullpen. But it was just the need as much as anything, he’s going to be down a couple days and with the doubleheader and now spot starter and shuffling around our pitching staff, he was the odd man out.”
The Mariners couldn’t simply option him back to the Rainiers since he was out of minor league options. Instead, they had to designate him for assignment and hope he clears waivers to be outrighted back to Tacoma. That’s a strong possibility because any team that claims Goeddel would have to put him on their 25-man roster.