Despite minor injuries, Servais optimistic Mariners will be healthy for opening day

Mar 14, 2018, 5:08 PM
Mariners manager Scott Servais: "The key is to try and get the guys healthy by March 29." (AP)...
Mariners manager Scott Servais: "The key is to try and get the guys healthy by March 29." (AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – The news on the Mariners’ latest round of injuries is, once again, as good as could be expected.

Nelson Cruz, a grade-1 quad strain and could be back in games in 5-6 days. Andrew Romine, sublexed shoulder, hopefully will miss just 3-4 days. Marco Gonzales, wrap off his hand, will pitch a bullpen Thursday and on track to make his start Saturday.

Three standouts in Mariners spring training

The trio joins a long list of players dealing with injuries who, if all goes right, will be back just in time for the start of the Mariners’ season (or in the case of Erasmo Ramirez, when a fifth starter is needed).

While waiting to see if his team can make it to the starting line, manager Scott Servais is focusing on the positive, like Felix Hernandez’s strong turnaround from an arm contusion.

“It does no good to fret about it,” he said. “Things happen. I don’t have an exact reason for it. I am going to stay focused on opening day. On a positive side, I think Felix’s bullpen yesterday was awesome. I do think there is a realistic chance he can get back there maybe opening day, certainly feel good about the prospect of him pitching the opening series. The ball game yesterday, with (Rob) Whalen, outstanding outing.

“You don’t want to cover up the injury issue, they are what they are. You have got to work our way through them, but the key is to try and get the guys healthy by March 29.”

Key of course will be Cruz and Robinson Cano, who is dealing with a hamstring strain. Had these injuries occurred in the regular season, bringing them back would have meant juggling a balance of how long the Mariners could survive without them versus how much each day they sat could give them back. There would be little to no chance to get them to or close to 100 percent. In the spring, it is a different story.

“That’s the advantage of maybe having some of these injuries come up in spring training – you can slow play it,” Servais said. “Robbie, Nellie, the experienced guys, they know where they are at with their swing, their timing. I’m not worried about either one of those guys. They feel pretty confident they should be good to go once we get to opening day but you never know. These are muscle strains, sometimes they act a little bit differently. It may take a little longer than we anticipate but you do want to be cautious at this time of the year.”

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Servais understands the frustration of the fans as the injuries pile up.

“Soft tissue injuries are the ones that concern you,” he said. “Where are we at with those, I know our medical people are on it and trying to address it. From the outside you are looking at, are these guys loose enough? Are they stretching enough? Nelson Cruz prepares as good as anyone in here. I know he is getting a little older but nobody does more than he does. Things happen. It’s spring training. Things come up.”

Servais does not believe Cruz and Cano will need much at this point to get ready for the season. If extra at-bats are needed they can get them in minor league games in the next two weeks.

While it could be a scramble to get there, Servais does expect to have nearly his complete team at the start of the season.

“I do believe everyone is going to be OK and we will be fine on opening day,” he said. “We will not have Ben Gamel, that one I am sure of. The other guys I think are going to be fine.”

Lineup! vs Giants

Ichiro, LF
Kean Segura, SS
Mitch Haniger, RF
Mike Zunino, C
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
Guillermo Heredia, CF
Taylor Motter, 3B
Mike Marjama, DH
Zach Vincej, 2B

James Paxton, LHP

Also scheduled to pitch: David Phelps, Shawn Armstrong, Christian Bergman.


• Gonzales had the wrap off his right hand Wednesday afternoon and had no problem holding an iced latte just two days after taking a hard shot off his non-pitching hand. He will throw his bullpen on Thursday and is expected to make his scheduled start Saturday.

• First baseman Ryon Healy is scheduled to take batting practice on the field today for the first time since undergoing hand surgery to remove bone spurs at the start of spring training. The hope is he can get into a game this weekend.

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Despite minor injuries, Servais optimistic Mariners will be healthy for opening day