HOUSTON – A typical Sunday morning in a major league clubhouse – road or home – is usually subdued. Players are not morning people, particularly when they have played late into Saturday evening. It’s coffee and quiet.
But on this Sunday morning, the visitor’s clubhouse of Minute Maid Park was bustling with chaos and uncertainty. New players were arriving, injury information on multiple players was trickling in and roster moves were being made.
The biggest swirl of concern surrounded rookie All-Star center fielder Julio Rodriguez, who was struck in the back of his right hand while swinging at a 97-mph fastball from Rafael Montero in the eighth inning of Saturday night’s win over the Astros.
Earlier in the morning, Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners president of baseball operations, speaking on his weekly radio appearance on MLB Network Radio, told host Jim Bowden that X-rays taken on Rodriguez’s right hand came back negative.
About an hour later, manager Scott Servais announced that Rodriguez (right hand contusion) and utility player Dylan Moore (back spasms) were being placed on the 10-day injured list.
The team recalled outfielder Jarred Kelenic from Class AAA Tacoma and selected the minor league contract of outfielder Jack Larsen from Class AA Arkansas to take their spots on the roster. To make room for Larsen on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Anthony Misiewicz was designated for assignment.
With Sunday afternoon’s game being “Princess Day” at Minute Maid Park, the sound system was blasting the soundtrack from “Frozen” at earsplitting levels to where even Servais, who looked like his previous night’s sleep could be counted in minutes, not hours, couldn’t be heard in his comments.
“I do not feel like a princess today, that’s for sure,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of action today, obviously last night’s game facilitates this.”
Rodriguez took a break from treatment on the hand to talk to the media pregame.
“Basically, I’m just icing it a lot,” he said. “It’s just bruised. Thankfully, the X-rays were negative.”
Admittedly, Rodriguez was scared when he was hit by the pitch. He had flashbacks to April 12, 2019 when he was struck in his left hand by a pitch, suffering a hairline fracture that kept him out over a month.
“I’ve been in this position before, and you always think that way,” he said. “Just knowing the X-rays were negative reassured me a little bit. It made me feel a little better about it.”
Rodriguez will likely have an MRI and more tests in the coming days to make sure nothing was missed on the initial X-ray.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I want to play. I wanted to be able to support the team and do the best I can for everyone.”
Besides Rodriguez and Moore, All-Star first baseman Ty France was out of the starting lineup because of left wrist soreness. He underwent an MRI early Sunday morning but Servais hadn’t gotten a report on the results before the game. But after the 3-2 loss in the series finale, Servais said that the MRI revealed no structural damage and France won’t need to go on the IL.
“That was a positive report,” Servais said. “He’ll need a couple of days to let it calm down.”
France rolled over his wrist on Monday while making a diving catch on a Kole Calhoun’s line drive. He started feeling soreness in the wrist on swings and misses. After sitting out Wednesday’s game in Seattle, France returned to the lineup and played well. But in his final at-bat on Saturday night, he swung awkwardly at a changeup and was in obvious pain.
After injuring the same wrist in a similar fashion last season and then making the mistake of trying to play through it, only making it worse and struggling at the plate, France thinks sitting out a few days will be enough.
“It’s been barking for a few days,” France said. “I felt like I just didn’t have anything in my bottom hand when I held the bat. It’s a similar pain to last season, but it’s not as bad. Now that I know, I was able to catch it a little sooner than trying to play on it for a month.”
Utility player Sam Haggerty was in the clubhouse sporting a bandage above his eye. He had eight stitches after being struck by his own bat after angrily slamming it against a wall in the dugout following a failed sac bunt attempt in the ninth inning. Initial reports from the clubhouse were that Haggerty had spiked his helmet and it bounced up and hit him, but he confirmed it was the bat against the wall.
He was not in the lineup, but was available to play if needed and pinch ran in the 10th inning.
“We’re trying to do the best thing for our players and our team,” Servais said. “With Julio and the wrist issue with Ty, they are most worrisome. You don’t want rush guys back and then they struggle and they don’t feel right and you’re battling it all year long. I think the biggest thing is to be kind of out ahead of it, give them time to recover and then when they get back they are 100 percent and good to go.”
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