BRENT STECKER

Mariners injury report: Mike Zunino expected to come off DL when eligible

Mar 31, 2018, 11:51 AM | Updated: 12:07 pm
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino's oblique strain is a Grade 1, the less severe version. (AP)...
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino's oblique strain is a Grade 1, the less severe version. (AP)
(AP)

Mike Marjama was the surprise of the Mariners’ opening night win, but it won’t be a surprise when he’s in the lineup over the next week.

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That’s because starting Mariners catcher Mike Zunino’s left oblique injury that resulted in him missing the first game of the year has landed him on the 10-day disabled list, Seattle deciding it was more important to have a healthy backup catcher in the dugout than risk having to use Zunino in a game before he’s fully healed up.

That almost happened on Thursday when Marjama took an Edwin Encarnacion swing to his left hand on a catcher’s interference in the second inning, nearly forcing the Mariners to turn to a hobbled Zunino with over seven innings to go.

The Mariners called up catcher David Freitas when they placed Zunino on the DL Friday night.

“I think the realization what can happen if your other catcher goes down, ‘Now we’re really in a bind’ the other night, so I just thought it was best for (Zunino) to give him the time down, best for our ball club,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said before Saturday’s game against Cleveland. “We have to have a viable backup if something does happen in the course of a game.”

Luckily for the Mariners, Zunino’s injury isn’t expected to keep him out longer than the required 10 days for a DL stint. While oblique strains can be hard to predict, Zunino’s strain is a Grade 1, which is less severe than what Ben Gamel is dealing with now and Mitch Haniger had during a prolonged absence last season.

“He should be OK here coming out of when the DL time is up,” Servais said, before adding some caution due to colder temperatures the Mariners will be encountering around that time. “I say that – we will be in Minnesota and we all know what the weather might be in Minnesota, so we will see.”

Zunino said he’s already seeing progress with the injury.

“The last two days has been trending in the right direction,” he said. “Feel better today so it’s one of those things where hopefully we continue this treatment and it’s a quick recovery rather than anything lengthy.”

For the time being, Servais said the Mariners will be using Marjama and Freitas fairly evenly behind the plate.

“We’ll use them both,” he said. “We’ll mix and match as much defensively what’s the best fit as well as offensively, looking at who’s pitching against us that day. But they’ll both get plenty of time.”

Notes

• Marjama’s hand is doing better after the day off Friday. Servais said tests showed there were no breaks and he suffered only a contusion, with swelling going down since he was hit.

• Gamel hit and starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez threw 20-25 pitches in a simulated game Friday. Both are “progressing nicely” but will require rehab assignments in the minors before being added to the active roster. Gamel is expected to join Triple-A Tacoma when its season starts on April 5, while Servais expects Ramirez to throw another sim game before heading out on his rehab stint.

• You can find the full lineups for Saturday’s Mariners-Indians game at this link.

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