The Mariners made a flurry of moves Sunday morning, most notably calling up catching prospect Cal Raleigh from Class AAA Tacoma and placing starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi on the injured list.
The Mariners also called up infielder Donovan Walton — to help fill in while third baseman Kyle Seager recovers from a bruised shin — and optioned outfielder Taylor Trammell to Tacoma.
The Kikuchi move would understandably give Mariners fans angst, but according to an MLB source he was placed on the injured list and likely will not miss any playing time.
Kikuchi, according to the source, had a COVID-19 symptom after his start against the New York Yankees on Wednesday. The left-hander, who is vaccinated, has had one negative test according to the source. He was scheduled to have another one Sunday.
If he passes that test, he would be cleared to pitch in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday in Denver.
Mariners manger Scott Servais, speaking to media members before the game Sunday against the Angels, said he was limited in what he could say about Kikuchi’s situation but indicated he was not concerned.
After the game Sunday, Servais said it was his understanding Kikuchi would be able to participate in All-Star Game festivities, which seemed to indicated the test Sunday also was negative.
“That’s the update I have,” Servais said.
Raleigh, a 24-year-old switch-hitter, is ranked as the organization’s No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline and the No. 8 prospect by Baseball America.
In 44 games with Tacoma this season, Raleigh was batting .324 (57 for 176) with nine home runs and 36 RBI. He immediately was inserted into the starting lineup Sunday at T-Mobile Park.
It was not the debut Raleigh was looking for results-wise, going 0 for 4 and he had a passed ball that allowed a run to score. But Raleigh said after the game it was a day he will never forget.
“It was crazy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Raleigh said.
Raleigh had to catch seven different pitchers Sunday and Servais said Raleigh did a nice job. And he wasn’t surprised.
“He’s mature behind the plate,” Servais said before the game of Raleigh, whose family was on hand to watch his big-league debut. “I’ve always been impressed with his ability to recall, his ability to build relationships and trust with the pitchers. … He’s very levelheaded, and very calm. You won’t see a lot of fist pumps.”
Servais said when Raleigh is batting and gets into good counts, “he has power, from both sides of the plate. It should add a nice dimension to the lineup, the fact he can switch hit.”
Servais said Raleigh “will play at lot in the second half,” but did not get into specifics, while mentioning catcher Tom Murphy also will play a lot and the team’s other catcher, Luis Torrens, is swinging the bat well.
Another top Mariners prospect, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, was happy for Raleigh.
“He’s an exciting player that I feel like doesn’t have a ton of hype around him yet, and I think he deserves all the hype in the world,” Kelenic said Sunday from Denver, where he was playing in the Futures Game. “He’s a great, great person, one of my closest friends in our organization and I can’t wait to watch him take off.”
For Walton, it is his fourth stint with the Mariners this season. He is hitting .206 with the Mariners in 63 at-bats and has two home runs.
Seager was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game, necessitating bringing up Walton for some infield depth.
Trammell, in two stints with the Mariners this season, is hitting .160 in 156 at-bats with eight home runs.
Servais didn’t want to give a letter grade to his team for the first half (“I’m not a teacher,” he said), but said it would be a “good grade.”
“We’re playing good baseball, we’re continuing to get better, and that’s what excites me,” he said. “We’ve got more room for growth for this club, but we’ve got to stay healthy.”
Larry Stone contributed to this report.