Mariners Notebook: What’s next in OF, rotation with Fraley and Paxton hurt

Apr 7, 2021, 11:42 AM | Updated: 12:16 pm
Mariners LHP James Paxton...
Mariners LHP James Paxton threw just 24 pitches on Tuesday and is now in the IL. (Getty)

The Mariners suffered a 10-4 defeat Tuesday night to the Chicago White Sox, but the biggest loss came not in the box score. Instead, it was with injuries.

Related: Paxton, Fraley placed on IL; Bishop, Newsome recalled

Big left-handed pitcher James Paxton struck out two in the first inning in his return to the Mariners after two seasons with the Yankees, but he left the game in the second inning with what was described after the game as a left forearm strain.

And that wasn’t all. Later in the game, starting outfielder Jake Fraley made a spectacular diving catch in left field but injured his hamstring on the play. He was removed shortly after.

On Wednesday, both Paxton and Fraley were placed on the 10-day injured list, with outfielder Braden Bishop and right-handed pitcher Ljay Newsome called up from the team’s alternate training site.

Mariner manager Scott Servais told reporters Wednesday morning that he had no update yet on the injuries to both Paxton and Fraley. Both underwent MRIs early in the morning.

In the case of Paxton, who has been one of the better pitchers in MLB when healthy, injuries are nothing new. Servais told reporters that he and Paxton have chatted multiple times since Paxton left Tuesday’s game with the injury.

“He stopped in my office late last night and (he’s) certainly very disappointed. I think leaving last night he was a little more optimistic that it wasn’t anything too serious,” Servais said.

Servais said it’s “hard to speculate” the extent of the injury and that he and the Mariners are waiting for the tests to come back, but he told Rick Rizzs on the Mariners pregame show on 710 ESPN Seattle that he doesn’t believe Paxton’s injury will be season-ending.

Paxton has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, and Servais feels for the southpaw who signed a one-year deal in free agency to return to Seattle.

“Pax has been through a lot in his career, he’s had a lot of different injuries that he’s dealt with,” Servais said. “We’re just trying to keep our fingers crossed that it’s nothing that’s going to keep him out too long and he can get back and working, and working towards getting on the mound for us.”

With Paxton out for at least 10 days, fellow lefty Nick Magevicius will take his turn in the rotation. Margevicius came on in relief of Paxton on Tuesday, throwing 3 2/3 innings while allowing four runs. Margevicius started for the Mariners last season.

With Margevicius in the rotation, Newsome will assume the long-relief role that had been Margevicius’.

“It could be two or three innings. He’s been built up to four (innings) and about 65 pitches, so if we needed to run him a little bit longer in a game (we could),” Servais said of Newsome.

With Fraley out, Servais said to expect a lot of shuffling in the outfield.

“You may see Dylan Moore a little bit out there, you may see (Sam) Haggerty,” Servais said. “Bishop will get some time, of course.”

And another outfielder may soon be joining the roster. That would be 2020 American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, who started the season on the 10-day injured list with a knee injury.

“Kyle Lewis is progressing as hoped. He came out of yesterday’s workout and increased the intensity a little bit there and had no issues there,” Servais said. “He feels good in the batting cage, as well. We’re very hopeful (after) we can get through this road trip that Kyle can become available for us.”

The Mariners’ road trip, which starts Thursday in Minnesota, ends on April 15. Seattle returns home April 16 to face the Houston Astros.

No change with prospects’ plans

What the injuries to Paxton and Fraley won’t do is result in call-ups for top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert. Servais contends Seattle will remain patient with their top hitting and pitcher prospects in regards to their MLB debuts.

“The plan with those players, it’s about their development and making sure that they are ready when they get here,” he said. “Again, you don’t want to just all of a sudden derail everything and something you firmly believe in because now there’s a roster spot open and you need to fill it or whatnot. That’s not a good development strategy at all.”

Dunn gets the ball

As far as the Mariners’ next game, they’ll look to avoid a sweep Wednesday. Justin Dunn, a player they’ll be relying on to take a step forward after a rough 2020 showing, makes his first start of the year.

By all accounts, the Mariners are happy with how Dunn progressed this offseason and in the spring, which resulted in him winning the sixth spot in the starting rotation.

“Hopefully we see the same guy who was out there in spring training, certainly bringing his ‘A’ stuff,'” Servais said. “We saw a different pitcher this spring than we saw last year, so I’m excited to see how that carries out into the season and all the work that he put in. Hopefully it pays off starting today.”

Wednesday’s lineup

With Fraley out, Haggerty will get a start on Wednesday, this time in right field.

Mitch Haniger is getting the day off in the field but will remain in the lineup at designated hitter. That results in Ty France playing in the field at second base and Dylan Moore sliding into left field.

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From last night: M’s suffer two injuries, lose to Chicago after Abreu’s slam

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Mariners Notebook: What’s next in OF, rotation with Fraley and Paxton hurt