Was he ready for it, or was he rushed?
There is no real answer for Nick Margevicius when he looks at what transpired during the 2019 season with the Padres. It was a career’s worth of experiences. Not a ballyhooed prospect in the organization, he was invited to major league spring training as nonroster player and pitched his way to a spot in the rotation as a 22-year-old rookie despite never pitching above the High-A level in three minor league seasons. He made three solid starts to start the 2019 season, struggled as big league hitters adjusted to his repertoire and was sent back to Double A for much of the season before being a September call-up to pitch out of the bullpen.
This offseason he was designated for assignment by the Padres, and the Mariners quickly claimed him off waivers to add to their starting pitching depth.
“It’s been a wild ride from the time I got called up to coming over to the Mariners,” he said in video call Friday.
There has been plenty of time to reflect and remember, but the conflicting feelings of the handful of good outings and the more frequent struggles because of inexperience provide no clarity.
“I just handled it the best I could at the time,” he said. “Looking back on it, maybe it was a little quick. Maybe I wasn’t quite ready for some things. But at the same time, I did what I could right away and I had some success right away. I just hit a little struggles and it was hard for me to bounce back from that.”
But the ups and mostly downs of last season have brought a level certainty to Margevicius leading into his first start as a member of the Mariners. When he walks to the mound at T-Mobile Park on Saturday to face the Colorado Rockies, he knows he’ll be ready to handle whatever happens because of last season.
“I think doing that so early and young in my career has offered me the chance to grow probably a little earlier than if something had come along the line later,” he said. “I don’t know if I was rushed or not, but I’m excited about where I’m at right now and continuing to learn and move forward has been great for me.”
After starting this truncated season as long reliever, Margevicius will slide into Kendall Graveman’s spot in the starting rotation. Graveman was placed on 10-day injured list with neck spasms and is expected to miss at least two starts.
Given the Mariners’ plan to avoid calling up top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert, Margevicius was the most viable option. Had this been a regular 162-game season, he likely would have been pitching in Triple A Tacoma’s starting rotation.
“We grade out all of our guys’ pitches on a scale, our analytical group does that,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said in a video call before Friday’s game. “And his stuff is really pointing north. It’s getting better. The fastball, the quality of the breaking pitches. Marge is very calm. He’s got a very professional approach. He’s a pitch-maker. He knows how to execute pitches and then sequence them together. It’s not just stuff coming at you. Even though he’s a young guy, he’s got a pretty mature approach to how he’s attacking hitters. He’s a starting pitcher, we’ve always viewed him as a starter.”
Still, the Mariners’ plan going into the 60-game season was to use him in the bullpen, which was an adjustment. But the shutdown of baseball and life brought Margevicius a perspective he’s using now.
“The thing I’ve learned the most is how to be adaptable,” he said. “I think everyone is kind of learning that lesson, and I think it really applies to the baseball field. I’ve learned that transitioning to the bullpen and now going back to a starting role, it’s just how adaptable can you be. The circumstances you can’t control, but what are you going to do in that situation? That’s what I’ve learned the most this past year.”
Lewis returns, White rests
Center fielder Kyle Lewis was back in the starting lineup after getting Thursday’s game off. He had played in every game this season. Lewis has .385/.439/.577 slash line, including a team-high 20 hits, with a double, three homers and 10 RBI.
Lewis’ former minor league roommate, Evan White, got his first full day off Friday after playing in the first 14 games.
White snapped an 0-for-17 stretch with an RBI double in Thursday’s loss. But the Mariners wanted him to get a day to regroup. He’s struggled over the last eight games. He has .118/.196/.216 slash line with two doubles, a homer, four RBI and 24 strikeouts with five walks.
“He’s getting in a little work today with our hitting guys,” Servais said pregame. “With Evan’s swing, you’ve got to slow it down, obviously get back to having a good approach and you have to use the whole field. We’ve seen Evan hit some balls hard just fall to the pull side, and sometimes that opens up some spots in the strike zone he’s not handling. He’s got to get back to using the whole field and he can do it. We’ve seen him do it. He’s done it against good competition. He hasn’t done at the major league level, yet, which is always the final step, but Evan’s going to be just fine.”
And the results?
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association jointly announced the latest COVID-19 testing results through the end of Thursday. Those results do not include the recent positive tests from two players and two staff members with the Cardinals that forced the postponement of the weekend series with the Cubs.
There have been 13,043 samples collected and tested this past week. Thirteen of those 13,043 samples, which is 0.1%, have been new positives. Of that group, seven were players, six were staff members.
Since the start of monitoring testing, there have been 53,826 samples collected and tested with 71 of those 53,826 samples, which is 0.1%, yielding new positives. Of those positives, 49 have been players and 22 have been staff members. There have been 19 different teams that have had a positive test during the monitoring testing.
Combining the totals of previously completed intake screening and ongoing monitoring testing, there have been 57,578 samples taken with 141 positive tests — 111 players, 30 staff members.