KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Zunino’s left wrist was wrapped with a huge ice pack following Seattle’s 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday.
But the good news was the ice was precautionary. His surgically repaired left wrist made it through his first big league game since getting hurt. And it held up while catching Felix Hernandez.
“I felt great,” he said. “My hand felt good. My legs felt good. It was nice to come back and feel 100 percent.”
Zunino’s recovery has been rapid. He suffered a broken hamate bone in his left wrist while swinging a bat on July 26. Three days later, he had surgery to remove the broken bone. Now, 34 days after going on the disabled list, he’s back in the big leagues.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge started Zunino immediately, having him catch Hernandez –something he’d done only a handful of times this season.
“I think he’s up for it,” Wedge said pregame. “We’ve only got so many games left, and he’s ready to play. My hope would be that he’s going to be catching Felix quite a bit in his career.”
Zunino looked solid behind the plate. He did allow a wild pitch to get by him for a run in the fifth inning and had a throwing error on a stolen base attempt in seventh while going 0-for-3 with a walk.
Wedge said he believes having Zunino back will be a boost to his team.
“It’s not a reflection on anybody else,” Wedge said. “It’s just a positive toward him – his energy, his youth, his knowledge. Though he’s young, he’s very mature and very advanced. He has a passion to continue to learn about his pitchers.”
With a strikeout of Mike Moustakas in the sixth inning, Hernandez has struck out 200 hitters in five consecutive seasons. It was Hernandez’s 267th career start, which moved him past Randy Johnson on the all-time Mariners list. … Wedge started rookie Abraham Almonte in center field. In the three games he’s started for Seattle since being called up, Almonte has started in all three outfield spots. “That’s where he’s played the majority of time in Triple A,” Wedge said. “I didn’t want to break him in center field in Houston with that park and that hill. I wanted it to be a normal setting.” … Wedge said Taijuan Walker will likely get one home start before reaching his innings limit. If the Mariners stay on their rotation schedule that would be Monday at Safeco Field against the Astros. … Wedge wouldn’t identify the three or four players he planned to call up from Triple-A Tacoma for September. He wanted to wait until they finished the season finale at Cheney Stadium. One of those players will be left-hander James Paxton, who was notified Sunday of his call-up. It’s likely that Paxton will pitch in relief for a week, then take Walker’s spot in the rotation. … With his fourth-inning RBI triple, Brad Miller has reached base in 14 consecutive games.
When the series in Kansas City continues at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday, right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (5-1, 5.18 ERA) is expected to start for Seattle, while the Royals are scheduled to go with left-hander Bruce Chen (6-2, 2.79). The game will be broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM. Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish