Yet another Seattle Mariners player is headed to the 10-day disabled list.
This time it’s star second baseman Robinson Cano, who hasn’t played since May 10 due to a mild strain in his right quadriceps, as diagnosed Tuesday morning following a magnetic resonance imaging scan. Cano’s DL stint is retroactive to May 13. The Mariners recalled Tacoma Rainiers outfielder Boog Powell to take Cano’s place on the 25-man roster.
Cano, who is hitting .296 this season with eight home runs and 28 RBIs, joins a disabled list that already includes starting pitchers Drew Smyly (strained elbow), Felix Hernandez (shoulder bursitis), Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder inflammation), James Paxton (strained forearm) and Ryan Weber (biceps strain), plus relievers Evan Scribner (flexor bundle strain) and Evan Marshall (hamstring) and outfielder Mitch Haniger (strained oblique).
“Eventually, we will become all healthy again, and we will become whole,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said, “and I’ll be really curious to see what our team looks like at that point.”
Seattle also played the first six weeks of the season without reliever Steve Cishek, who was activated from the disabled list and made his 2017 debut on Monday, and withstood an earlier DL stint for shortstop Jean Segura, to say nothing of the more minor ailments that have nagged Nelson Cruz (hamstring) and Kyle Seager (sore hip).
Other than that, the Mariners are relatively healthy.
“I don’t know if there’s any rationalization behind it,” Servais said. “We’ve gotten bit by the bug.
“… But I’ve said all along, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We play the games. They’re not slowing down or stopping the schedule. We’ll go out there and continue to compete.”
Servais said Taylor Motter will fill in at second base in Cano’s absence. Cano will be eligible to return May 23, which would be the first game of Seattle’s eight-game road trip to Washington, Boston and Colorado.
“It’s nothing that we think is going to take anything longer than an extra five or six days, and he should be good to go, instead of just waiting, waiting, day to day to day,” Servais said. “We’re kind of at the point now, let’s just try to cut it off and get him back close to 100 percent when he comes back and go from there.”
DIAZ CLOSED DOWN
After he walked four consecutive batters in the ninth inning of Monday’s 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics, Edwin Diaz will no longer serve as the Mariners closer, Servais said.
Instead, Diaz will focus on fixing his mechanics with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., and will pitch in lower-leverage situations earlier in games as he figures things out.
The problem, Servais said, is that Diaz, a 23-year-old right-hander, “doesn’t know where to go” when, uh, “the BS hits the fan.”
In 16 appearances this season, Diaz has a 1-2 record with a 5.28 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. He has converted seven of nine save opportunities, but his past two outings were rough: on Sunday, he allowed a walk-off home run in a tie game against Toronto. On Monday, he entered with a three-run lead before walking four consecutive batters, forcing the Mariners to turn to Tony Zych to close the game out.
“We’ve got to get Edwin right. He’s got a great arm,” Servais said. “We know what he can do when he is right. We’re going to need him. But right now, it’s probably not going to be the ninth inning.”
Stottlemyre began working on Diaz’s mechanics prior to Seattle’s Tuesday night game against Oakland. He said he showed him video of Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, whose delivery he says is similar to Diaz’s, and emphasized body awareness and control.
“With Eddie, it’s hips ahead of arms,” Stottlemyre said. “So we went out and I’m just trying to teach him how to use his body down the slope so his arm can go with it and he can hopefully repeat pitches down the slope and the other end of the plate, something he’s never really had a handle on.
“(I’m) kind of taking him through some basic stuff — and trying to keep it simple without confusing him — that he can grab onto and take into a game if he gets sideways again.”
Stottlemyre said he’s trying to get Diaz’s knee lift to occur when his body is still over the rubber, rather than as he is already moving toward home plate – a flaw that causes his arm to come through too late.
“So we’re trying to hold the hips back and let the knee get to the top,” Stottlemyre said, “so the timing of the arm down to foot-strike is in good position to make a pitch.”
For now, Servais said, Diaz will likely pitch in the sixth or seventh innings, and possibly for more than one inning at a time, until his mechanics improve. The closer role could be filled by a number of different relievers. Servais named Mark Rzepczynski, Nick Vincent, former closer Steve Cishek and Tony Zych as possibilities to pitch the ninth.
Diaz, who saved 18 games as a rookie last season while striking out 88 batters in 51 2/3 innings, said he has never had as much trouble throwing strikes as he did on Monday night. But he seemed encouraged by the changes Stottlemyre wants him to make – and it doesn’t hurt that he is using video of Pedro Martinez as a teaching tool.
“We just tried to fix the things that he does – stay back on the rubber like him,” Diaz said. “Everything will be fine after that.”
Servais said a throwing program is being put together for Paxton, and that the left-hander will likely make one rehab start in the minors before rejoining the big-league club at the end of their next road trip or immediately after. … Right-hander Sam Gaviglio is scheduled to start Thursday’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox.
The Mariners conclude their three-game series against Oakland with a 7:10 p.m. Wednesday game at Safeco Field. Right-hander Christian Bergman (0-1, 4.15 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Mariners against right-hander Jesse Hahn (1-2, 2.74) for the Athletics. The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 AM.