SEATTLE – It could’ve been a disastrous situation for the Mariners. Instead, it should be just an issue for a few more days after some good news for catcher Austin Nola arrived Wednesday.
Mariners manager Scott Servais confirmed that Nola’s knee injury, which he suffered in Monday’s loss in Houston while sliding into second, will not require a trip to the injured list.
“He had some tests run today and they came back pretty good,” Servais said in his pregame video conference. “He’s got some swelling in there, but nothing structural wrong with the knee at all, which is really good news. Anytime you are going to get an MRI on a catcher’s knee, you get a little nervous.”
The Mariners started Joe Odom at catcher for the second consecutive game in the Angels series after he was called up before Tuesday’s game. Odom’s familiarity with Justus Sheffield, who pitched on Tuesday, and Justin Dunn, who made his first start of 2020 on Wednesday, kept him in the lineup over Joe Hudson.
Nola likely won’t be in the lineup the rest of the road trip.
“Hopefully when we can get him in there when we get back home,” Servais said. “I know he’s relieved that results came back OK. We’ll keep our fingers crossed we can get him back in there soon.”
The Mariners were already without catcher Tom Murphy, who was placed on the injured list with a hairline fracture in his left foot. He’s been working out and getting treatment at the alternative training site at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. He’s also participating in preseries advance meetings and daily pitchers’ meetings via video call, trying to contribute in any way.
Murphy doesn’t experience pain while batting or running, but there is discomfort when he gets into a catchers’ squat. He can participate in intrasquad games in Tacoma as part of a rehab assignment to get his timing back.
“I would love to see him back here with us as soon as we can, but we want to be smart,” Servais said. “We don’t want to rush him out there before he feels like he could go and you don’t want to have a setback where you come back, play two or three games and it flares up on you, now you got to go right back to the IL. So we got to be smart about that.”
Hirano close to return: Pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano threw a light bullpen session on Tuesday at the team’s complex in Arizona. The Mariners are going to build up his throwing progression before having him fly to Seattle to undergo intake testing protocol again.
“We’ll see how that goes, but so far so good,” Servais said. “Hirano is another guy we desperately need and looking forward to getting him back.”
Hirano tested positive for COVID-19 on June 25 and was unable to train for two weeks. He finally cleared protocols and entered workouts on July 18.
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