Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez leaves game with low back tightness

Sep 22, 2022, 1:22 PM | Updated: 10:12 pm

Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Mariners CF Julio Rodríguez leaves the game against the Athletics on Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Mariners All-Star center fielder Julio Rodríguez came out of Seattle’s series finale against the Athletics in Oakland on Thursday in the bottom of the first inning.

Ty France at 3B, Jarred Kelenic in LF for M’s series finale vs A’s

Play stopped in the middle of the inning as Rodríguez walked off the field with a trainer, with the rookie sensation re-aggravating a back issue that caused him to miss three games from Saturday through Monday against the Angels in Anaheim. Rodríguez was a late scratch just minutes before first pitch before Saturday’s game after feeling soreness in his back from batting practice.

Rodríguez’s injury was officially termed low back tightness by the Mariners.

After the game, a 9-5 Mariners win, manager Scott Servais called the situation “concerning,” reports Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports.

The Mariners have been struggling mightily at the plate in the last week, having lost five of six games going into Thursday, and scoring just one run in each of their last four losses. They showed signs of coming out of it right away Thursday with Rodríguez hitting a double to lead off the game, starting a three-run first inning. He had to come out of the game just minutes later.

Seattle is already in rough shape when it comes to injuries with home run leader Eugenio Suárez on the 10-day injured list with a finger fracture and several other players having missed time recently with various ailments.

The 21-year-old Rodríguez is the cornerstone of Seattle’s future after being signing to a unique long-term extension that has the potential of being the largest contract in MLB history depending on incentives and options written into the deal. He has been a revelation in his first big league season in 2022, posting a slash line of .280/.342/.502 for an .844 OPS with 27 home runs, 73 RBIs, 24 doubles, three triples and 25 stolen bases on 32 attempts. He recently became the fastest player in MLB history to join the 25/25 club (25 home runs, 25 stolen bases in the same season), doing so three games faster than Angels superstar Mike Trout.

The Mariners wrapped up their series with the A’s before heading to Kansas City for three games against the Royals in their final road series of the 2022 regular season this weekend. Coverage of the first two games will be carried on Seattle Sports 710 AM, with the finale Sunday on 770 AM in the Seattle area.

The M’s pushed their lead over Baltimore for the third and final wild card spot in the American League to 4 1/2 games with Thursday’s win, lowering their magic number to make the playoffs to nine. The Mariners currently own the longest postseason drought in North American major league pro sports at 21 years.

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