Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais has had to keep a list handy to detail all of the 11 players who are working their way back from the injured list.
Tuesday, the Mariners activated one of them for Tuesday night’s game against the Twins in Minnesota. More could return to the roster this week.
Second baseman Dee Gordon, one of Seattle’s infield staples and a veteran voice in the clubhouse, was reinstated after losing 19 games to a wrist injury. Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ hit Gordon in the wrist with a pitch in early May, but after missing three straight games to recover, Gordon played in seven more games before eventually landing on the 10-day IL anyway on May 21.
“It’s been tough, but it’s for the best of the team,” Gordon said earlier this week, while on rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma. “They need me to be healthy.”
Gordon played in three rehab games with the Rainiers, going 3-for-14 with a pair of strikeouts. He was slashing at .281/.310/.369 with seven extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 45 games for the Mariners before his IL stint.
Gordon is the first of the injured to return. Help could be coming soon, though.
Shortstop J.P. Crawford, who was hitting his stride before an untimely ankle injury last month, was set to begin a rehab assignment with High-A Modesto on Tuesday. Ryon Healy is still working through lower back issues, but should offer another option at first base when he returns.
Gordon noted earlier this week, when he would go into Seattle’s training room for treatment in the past month, there were often several players being tended to.
“There’s a lot of defense in there,” Servais said during the most recent homestand. “Guys that are very confident handling their position. We’re anxious to get Crawford back, get Dee back, when Healy comes back … he’ll spend some time over at first base.
“All these guys are important, and it really helps your pitching. Some of the games that have gotten away from us have been defense-related, and hopefully we can clean up some of that stuff when we get guys with more range and experience (back).”
Gordon’s return should help shore up a defense that has sputtered throughout the season, and committed 71 errors through its first 69 games. Seattle has committed at least one error in 63.8 percent of its games, and had a season-long stretch of eight consecutive games with an error between May 12-20.
The Mariners committed 17 total errors during the three-week stretch Gordon missed, though they have played six error-free games in June.
While rookies Dylan Moore (primarily at shortstop) and Shed Long (primarily at second base) have proved reasonably consistent with Gordon and Crawford out, Gordon’s return should help tighten up an infield that also recently returned veteran third baseman Kyle Seager. Tuesday will be the first game Gordon and Seager have both played in this season.
FESTA BACK TO TACOMA
Reliever Matt Festa was optioned to Triple-A for the third time this season to make room for Gordon on the active roster. He is 0-1 with 5.73 ERA in nine games over three stints with Seattle this season.
He has allowed seven earned runs, seven walks and struck out nine in 11 innings pitched with the Mariners. In his most recent stay, he made a pair of relief appearances, both against Houston, and was tagged with the loss in the 14-inning marathon against the Astros on Thursday.
Festa has posted a 0-1 record with a 4.40 ERA and two saves in 12 relief appearances with the Rainiers this season, and has struck out 19 while walking six in 14 1/3 innings.
Servais told reporters in Minnesota on Tuesday that the Mariners will use an opener ahead of starting pitcher Tommy Milone on Wednesday. This will be the fourth time this season the Mariners will try an opener. They are 1-2 so far when using this strategy.
Following Monday’s off day, rookie starter Yusei Kikuchi will pitch on a normal four days rest Thursday, while Marco Gonzales will be given an extra rest day and start Friday.
▪ Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (lat) threw a live BP session on Sunday, and is scheduled to pitch in a rehab game this weekend with a minor-league affiliate.
▪ Reliever Hunter Strickland (lat) is no longer on track to begin a rehab assignment this week after a setback during his live BP session on Sunday.
▪ Outfielders Braden Bishop (lacerated spleen) and Mitch Haniger (groin) are both recovering from surgical procedures and have not resumed physical activity. There is no timeline on their returns.
▪ Relievers Chasen Bradford (elbow) and Connor Sadzeck (elbow) have not yet resumed throwing activities.