Mariners’ Yusei Kikuchi off IL, cleared for All-Star Game; Will Vest DFA’d
The Mariners’ All-Star will be present for the festivities in Denver.
A day after Seattle placed Yusei Kikuchi on the COVID-19 injured list, he was cleared and taken off the IL on Monday morning. Kikuchi, who manager Scott Servais said is vaccinated, had felt symptoms but tested negative for the virus at the time of his placement on the IL Sunday and needed to pass one more test to be cleared.
That wasn’t the only move the Mariners made on Monday. Reliever Will Vest, Seattle’s 2021 selection in the Rule 5 Draft, was designated for assignment, while utility player Donovan Walton was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma.
Vest, 26, was selected by the Mariners from the Tigers organization and made his MLB debut in April. He had a strong start to the year, maintaining a 1.17 ERA and .212 opponent batting average over his first 14 appearances (15 1/3 innings). It’s been a struggle in the 18 appearances since, however, as he has a 10.07 ERA and .338 opponents batting average over his last 19 2/3 innings.
As a Rule 5 selection, Vest needed to stay either on the Mariners’ active roster or injured list for the entire season or be offered back to the Tigers. He could remain with the M’s and be outrighted to a minor league affiliate if he clears both the offer back to Detroit and waivers.
Walton, 27, was called up for Sunday’s first half finale, serving as added depth for a Mariners team that was missing Kyle Seager due to a bone bruise on his leg. The hope was that Seager would be able to avoid a 10-day IL stint and return when the Mariners begin the second half Friday in Anaheim against the Angels. Walton appeared as a pinch runner and stayed in at second base late in Sunday’s 8-1 loss to the Angels in Seattle.
The 30-year-old Kikuchi is a first-time All-Star in his third MLB season. He is tied for second among MLB left-handed pitchers with 11 quality starts this season, and in the American League he ranks 10th in ERA (3.48), eighth in WHIP (1.09), and 14th in strikeouts per nine innings (9.0). Kikuchi is expected to pitch in the All-Star Game at Coors Field, which is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday. The ESPN Radio broadcast of the game will air on 710 ESPN Seattle.