The Mariners have placed Mike Zunino on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left oblique and recalled catcher David Freitas from Triple-A Tacoma. The move is retroactive to March 27.
Zunino felt stiffness in his left side as he came to the end of his batting practice session Wednesday. He was checked out by team doctors Thursday and scratched from the opening day lineup before Seattle’s 2-1 win.
While Mariners manager Scott Servais said that Zunino was available in a catch-only capacity if an emergency situation cropped up that night – and it almost did with Mike Marjama getting hit on the glove hand with a bat on a catcher’s interference – Zunino spent the game in the training room and clubhouse. After the game he did not seem to believe the injury was serious.
“As a baseball player you are aware of anything in that abdominal region so I just wanted to shut it down and not flare anything up,” Zunino said Thursday night.
The Mariners appear to be taking the extra cautious route with muscle strains this year. Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano were shut down for periods in spring training after suffering leg issues and now Zunino will miss at least the first week of the season due to his oblique.
“For me I want to be here for this team for 162 (games) so trying to be smart about it, trying to be proactive and really not try to push it too early,” Zunino said.
The initial word from the team on Thursday was that Zunino wasn’t expected to miss more than a day or two, but with three off days in the first 10 days of the seasons and two extra retroactive days for his DL placement, the Mariners may be taking the opportunity to get Zunino extra time to heal and put the issue behind him with minimal games early on in the season.
We should learn more about the severity of Zunino’s strain and when he is expected to return when we talk to Servais before the second game of the Mariners’ series with Cleveland on Saturday morning.