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Sports >  Seattle Mariners

Just when you thought the Mariners’ rotation was finally healthy, Justin Dunn goes on the injured list

UPDATED: Wed., June 2, 2021

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Justin Dunn motions and looks skyward as he comes off the field after being removed during the sixth inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Seattle.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Justin Dunn motions and looks skyward as he comes off the field after being removed during the sixth inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

SEATTLE – When Marco Gonzales walked off the mound Wednesday night, following his fourth solid inning of pitching, the Mariners’ rotation finally seemed whole.

With Gonzales’ return from a month-long stay on the injured list, Seattle finally had six healthy starting pitchers for its six-man rotation.

No more bullpen starts. No more piecing together a schedule, hoping for off days and breaks.

That feeling lasted for about 20 hours.

An hour before the first pitch of the homestand finale vs. the A’s, the Mariners announced that right-hander Justin Dunn had been placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Right-hander Robert Dugger was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take Dunn’s place on the roster, and possibly in the rotation as a spot starter.

The news about Dunn came out after Mariners manager Scott Servais had met with the media pregame. There was no indication that Dunn was dealing with shoulder issues based on his last start or from anything Servais said in the past few days.

Dunn was interviewed on the Mariners’ television broadcast and said that his shoulder just didn’t bounce back as expected from his previous outing. He hoped that it would only be a few days before it started to feel normal again.

Dunn’s last outing came on Saturday in Seattle’s 3-2 win over the Rangers at T-Mobile Park. He tossed 5⅔ innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. He took a took no-decision in the outing, throwing 98 pitches. He was scheduled to start Friday night in Anaheim vs. the Angels.

In nine starts this season, he has a 1-2 record with a 3.18 ERA. He has allowed two runs or fewer in his past five starts and in seven of his nine starts on the season. In 45⅓ innings pitched, he’s struck out 45 batters and walked 27. Opponents are hitting just .168 against Dunn, the best mark among American League starting pitchers.

Dunn joins lefties James Paxton (Tommy John surgery) and Nick Margevicius (thoracic outlet syndrome) and right-handers Casey Sadler (shoulder impingement), Ljay Newsome (elbow strain), Erik Swanson (groin strain) as pitchers who have appeared in games this season currently on the injured list. Right-handers Kendall Graveman and Drew Steckenrider are on the COVID-19 injured list.

Dugger was just optioned to Triple-A Tacoma after Monday’s game to make room for Gonzales on the roster. He returns and seems like a possible candidate to make Dunn’s start, though he will only pitch two to three innings.

The Mariners have 14 players from their 40-man roster on the injured list.

More injury updates: Outfielder Kyle Lewis, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with a torn right meniscus in his knee, will visit another doctor for a second opinion on the injury and a course of action.

“Kyle is really down and he’s disappointed,” Servais said. “He was playing so well, and like any player having to deal with that kind of issue, and just as he was getting it going, it becomes very frustrating.”

If Lewis does need surgery, it would be his third surgery on his knee since being taken in the first round of the 2016 draft by the Mariners. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and tears to his anterior and medial meniscus on a play at home plate in his first season.

He also had a second surgery to clean up the knee and some issues around his patella. After healthy and full seasons in 2019 and 2020, he missed the first 17 games of this season with a bone bruise to the knee.

“There’s always levels of concern when guys have knee issues or shoulder issues,” Servais said.

“He’s battled back from a pretty serious injury right when he got his professional career started – a credit to him. And I think he’s figured out a routine that works for him, and something else pops up. Some things you just can’t control. It’s crazy to worry about them or fret over them. You just have to keep moving forward.”

Dylan Moore (left calf strain) is progressing toward a rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma in the coming days. He’s been a full participant in workouts, but has yet to test the calf running.

Evan White (right hip flexor strain) isn’t quite as close to a rehab assignment. He has been out on the field taking ground balls and taking batting practice, but hasn’t been able to do running or exercises that require explosive movements.

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