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Mariners Jarred Kelenic
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Drayer: Where Jarred Kelenic’s injury leaves Mariners and their top prospect

The return date for Jarred Kelenic will likely come in weeks, not days. (Getty)

There is little question Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic enjoys the spotlight, but there is no doubt being the top story Saturday is something he could do without. That’s because what felt like a tweak of the knee out of the batter’s box Friday afternoon in Glendale, Ariz., turned out to be more than just that.

Related: Mariners’ Kelenic will miss time after suffering knee strain

The Mariners announced Saturday morning that an MRI revealed Kelenic has a strain of the adductor muscle in his left knee. It is a Grade 2 strain, and while that is not as severe as a Grade 3 rupture, Grade 2 strains do involve tearing. That means Kelenic is dealing with a return that is likely to be measured in weeks, not days.

The injury brings to a halt what had been a solid start to Cactus League play for Kelenic, who has appeared in three games for the Mariners, making two starts and notching two hits – including the Mariners’ first home run of the spring.

Earlier this week: Kelenic has loud day, including first HR of spring

“I feel bad for him, he certainly he needs to play,” manager Scott Servais said following the Mariners 1-1 tie Saturday against the A’s. “He needs the developmental time; these games are so important. But knowing him, he’s a very intense young man, he’s going to do everything he can to get back on the field as soon as he can.”

Eyes from across baseball have been on Kelenic following former team president Kevin Mather’s comments regarding his arrival date to the big leagues, which led to Kelenic and his agent’s contention in a USA Today article that he should have been called up in 2020 and that the Mariners said he would have been had he signed a long-term deal with the club. At issue: service time. The Mariners contend that after just 21 games above the High-A level, he has not yet met the goals of their development plan, a plan they insist was known by the player. Regardless, Kelenic was in camp to try and win a spot, using Mather’s words and the situation as additional motivation.

That spot – left field – remains wide open. While a timeline for Kelenic’s return has yet to be revealed, giving any muscle tear time to heal, particularly at the beginning of the season, is important. This is something neither side should want to linger, and Kelenic should not be in the batter’s box or on the field trying to compensate. The worst thing that could happen is for the player that is ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Mariners’ farm system (depending on the outlet) to suffer further injury because he was rushed back onto the field.

A great spring storyline has likely come to an end, but a fully healthy Kelenic is almost certain to make some noise regardless of his return date.

Follow Mariners insider Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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