SEATTLE – When catcher Mike Zunino was scratched on opening day, the Seattle Mariners believed he’d be on the field making his season debut Saturday.
Instead, Zunino was spending his second day on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.
“It’s frustrating. I wish there was a word that’s more than that,” Zunino said on Saturday. “You know it’s part of the game. Obviously if this happened halfway through the year, you take a couple of days and it’s different. But for the anticipation of the season and what we had in store as at team, it’s not how you want to get off to a start. But I’m trying to get healthy as soon as I can so I can help this team as long as I can.”
Zunino suffered the injury during batting practice on Wednesday and is the latest addition to Seattle’s list of ailments that started in spring training and has carried into the regular season. The Mariners are already without outfielder Ben Gamel and pitcher Erasmo Ramirez due to injuries suffered in spring training similar to Zunino’s. Seattle also lost reliever David Phelps to a torn elbow ligament.
The difference between Zunino’s injury and those suffered by Gamel and Ramirez is the severity. Zunino has a Grade 1 oblique strain and manager Scott Servais said the hope is Zunino won’t need much more than 10 days to recover.
“Of all the guys, looking at spring training, you never don’t want anybody to go down or miss time, but on my radar, the No. 1 most important was him, just because of the value he brings with the pitching staff, where he was at offensively,” Servais said. “I don’t think it’s going to detract from what he’s able to do this season for us, but you hate to see him start out behind the eight ball, so to speak. It’s going to take him a little while to get going.”
Seattle recalled David Freitas so the club has two healthy catchers on the roster, but the majority of the playing time will likely fall to Mike Marjama, who received high praise for jumping into a difficult situation on opening night and catching Felix Hernandez for the first time in a game.
It was just the third major league start for Marjama, who also got hit on the back of his catching hand by a swing from Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion early in the game and stayed in.
“Nothing really changes in terms of our preparation or anything. Be ready every day, regardless,” Marjama said. “And whenever Mike gets back, he’s going to come in and do a great job.”
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