With Ljay Newsome unavailable for at least the first two games of the series in Houston due to heavy workload and Nick Margevicius waiting for team doctors to review the results of an MRI taken Monday morning on his left shoulder, the Mariners had to make a roster to move to add some pitching depth before opening a four-game series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Seattle placed Margevicius on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation and recalled right-handed Robert Dugger from the alternate training site. Dugger was one of two pitchers on the Mariners’ taxi squad and traveling with the team on the road trip.
“We do not have the results back yet,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I do know (Margevicius) did get the MRI. We’re waiting for our doctor to read it and kind of see where it goes from there. Obviously, we ran through Ljay Newsome and his pitches yesterday, so activating Dugger today helps us out and gives us some length in our bullpen if we need it tonight.”
Margevicius exited his start Sunday after recording just one out in a four-run first inning against the Red Sox. After being examined by Red Sox team doctors at Fenway Park, he was diagnosed with shoulder fatigue.
In his most previous outing, he was bothered by shoulder fatigue after four innings.
The MRI hopefully will reveal what is causing the fatigue and inflammation.
“We’ll have to wait and see what that MRI says,” Servais said. “Hopefully it’s nothing serious. But you never know until a doctor gets a chance to read it.”
Dugger, 25, has yet to pitch in a MLB game this season. He was selected as Seattle’s 27th man for an April 15 doubleheader in Baltimore, but did not pitch. He made one appearance in a Cactus League game this spring, tossing three scoreless innings with two strikeouts in a start against the Royals. Otherwise, he’s been pitching in simulated games at the alternate training site.
“I really liked what I saw,” Servais said of Dugger’s one outing. “We’ve put an emphasis on his breaking pitches. He’s always kind of been a sinker/slider guy. He’s worked in the curveball more and leaning more on the curveball/slider. It’s been pretty good for him. That’s what the focus will be with him going forward. He is a big-time strike thrower. It fits perfect in that role to be a guy that comes in, pitches multiple innings, throwing strikes. It’s what Ljay does so well. He’s able to take big chunks of the game away just by throwing strikes.”
Dugger was selected by the Mariners in the 18th round of the 2016 MLB draft out of Texas Tech. He was later traded to the Marlins along with two other players in exchange for Dee Strange-Gordon and international pool money. He returned to Seattle when he was claimed off waivers last December.
In parts of four minor-league seasons, Dugger is 26-24 with a 3.84 ERA (184 ER, 431 1/3 IP) with 124 walks and 417 strikeouts over 91 minor-league appearances (72 starts).
As of now, the Mariners are leaning toward sliding Newsome into Margevicius’ spot in the six-man starting rotation.
“Nothing is in stone yet,” Servais said. “I thought he threw the ball just outstanding yesterday, and Ljay continues to get better. He’s been very effective in the bullpen role. And I think our expectations would be real, as far as sending him out. We’re not expecting him to go six or seven innings. But keep us in a ballgame, give us four or five innings and then we’ll take care of business after that with the rest of our bullpen.”
Servais said they considered switching to a more traditional five-man rotation, utilizing two off days the first week of May.
“We’ve discussed it a little bit, (Mariners pitching coach) Pete Woodworth and I, last night on the plane,” Servais said. “It was just kind of looking at our schedule and knowing we got some off days coming up here. But you have to look at the whole group, you can’t just look at one or two guys. Certainly, we have one or two guys who are maybe more capable and ready to handle that. But we’ll have to wait and see. Right now, we’re not planning on it, but it’s something we have discussed.”
The Tacoma Rainiers announced they will be opening Cheney Stadium to fans at a 25% capacity for all home games in May. The Mariners’ Class AAA affiliate opens its season May 6 against El Paso. Priority access for ticket sales will be given to season-ticket holders.
Single-game tickets will be offered for purchase starting at 10 a.m. the day of the game, based on ticket availability. For the latest information on ticket sales at limited capacity, and health and safety protocols at Cheney Stadium to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit WeRTacoma.com/Rainiers-COVID.
Season ticket packages currently are available for the 2021 Class AAA West Championship Season. For more information, contact the Rainiers via email at Tickets@WeRTacoma.com.