Mariners’ Gregory Santos has setback, but may have avoided worse injury

Mar 12, 2024, 11:14 AM | Updated: 1:40 pm

Seattle Mariners Gregory Santos...

Gregory Santos of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait at 2024 MLB spring training. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

As new Seattle Mariners reliever Gregory Santos warmed up Monday morning for what would have been his second bullpen since being shut down with lat soreness, he felt a pinch in another area of that muscle.

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Santos immediately called over the trainer assigned to watch his warmup and reported it. After some talk with the trainer and a pitching coach, the group walked back into the complex building at the Mariners’ spring training home in Peoria, Ariz., and the bullpen was scratched. Soon after, Santos underwent an MRI that showed a mild strain in a different area than where he experienced the soreness earlier in camp.

Mariners general manager Justin Hollander shared the prognosis with the media in camp Tuesday morning.

“We think it is not serious and with some anti-inflammatories he will not be down very long,” Hollander said of Santos. “We obviously want to be careful and assess because as you know with lat strains, if they go south, they go south for months at that point. So really relieved when we got it checked out it wasn’t serious. It is something though we need to get fixed. It means you will not be seeing him throwing bullpens. It also means he will not be ready for opening day.”

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With less than two weeks remaining in Arizona, realistically Santos was not going to be ready for Mariners opening day against the Boston Red Sox on March 28 regardless. Hollander stressed the strain is mild with the MRI showed mild inflammation, but said Santos’ shutdown would likely be more weeks than days, which obviously would push the return date back further.

For Mariners manager Scott Servais, the news doesn’t change much in the now.

“I wasn’t projecting him to be ready opening day,” Servais said shortly after the announcement. “Everything was going to have to go perfect for that to happen, so I would say there’s a couple spots that are open. Some guys have been stepping up, which is good to see. I think we will know probably more about how that plays out over the next week.”

This is not the first lat injury for Santos. A much more significant injury in 2019 limited him to just eight appearances that season in A-ball with the Giants organization. Hollander believes the fact that Santos reported the pinch he felt immediately could have saved him from a more severe injury. The current course of treatment for Santos will be to get him on anti-inflammatories and in the training room for treatment.

“We do not want to take chances with it and push it,” said Hollander. “We will calm it down with anti-inflammatories and get him back out there when he’s ready.”

The Mariners acquired Santos from the White Sox for prospects Zach DeLoach, Prelander Berroa and future considerations in a February trade. The hard-throwing, 24-year-old right-hander threw 66 1/3 innings for the White Sox last season for a 3.39 ERA, 1.296 WHIP and 2.56 FIP, with 66 strikeouts to 17 walks. He is expected to be a high-leverage arm for Seattle’s bullpen when he takes the field.

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Mariners’ Gregory Santos has setback, but may have avoided worse injury