SEATTLE -- Evan White’s left hip flexor strain is far “more ominous” than he or the Mariners initially anticipated, general manager Jerry Dipoto said ahead of Saturday’s game against the Angels, and the first baseman’s trajectory could be leaning toward missing the rest of the season.
Dipoto added that the club should have more clarity on White’s course in the coming days. Season-ending surgery is being considered.
“TBD,” Dipoto said. “It's not looking as good for Evan. … We are hopeful that we have a definitive answer on that in the next couple of days. My guess is at some point tomorrow, or just after we come out of the break, we'll have a news update. But I wouldn't anticipate having Evan back, perhaps, for the remainder of the year.”
Dipoto was more optimistic on center fielder Kyle Lewis, who is slowly progressing from surgery on June 9 for a torn right meniscus. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year has been in Seattle for over a week and has reported in uniform every day, though he’s yet to begin baseball activity.
“In K-Lew’s case, day by day,” Dipoto said. “He's still very early in the process. He hasn't begun to do anything from a baseball perspective. He's still early in the rehab. We’re going to have to take it very slowly with him. Our hope is that he's back on the field in August, but that right now is hope. We don't have any physical proof that that's likely.”
Both players are key foundational pieces to the Mariners’ multiyear rebuild and long-term core. So beyond not having them contributing every day, their development has also been stalled with their respective injuries. Last season, Lewis won the AL Rookie of the Year Award while White became the first rookie first baseman to win the AL Gold Glove Award.
But those accomplishments were achieved in a 60-game season without fans amid a pandemic. Lewis has played in just 112 big league games since debuting in 2019, and White has played in 84 after seeing his first action in '20. The hope was that both would play a full six-month season in '21.
“I do have faith that both players will be back with us next year, minimally,” Dipoto said. “I'm very confident that Kyle will play again this year. I just don't know when. I don't have a specific answer. And along the way, the benefactors have been some of the contributors over this last month.”
Dipoto cited outfielder Jake Fraley and infielder Ty France as players who’ve taken up the mantle from Lewis and White, and it’s likely that each will continue to see action at those respective positions.
Catcher Luis Torrens has also been taking more infield reps lately and could see more first-base action in the second half, especially after the club calls up No. 6 prospect Cal Raleigh. And Jarred Kelenic, who’s expected to return early in the second half, should play regularly in center, the position he’s manned almost exclusively since his demotion to the Minor Leagues last month.
Dipoto spun the situations on White and Lewis as a chance to further gauge the rest of the roster.
“The versatility that it gives our club is it allows us to view our offseason through a different lens, because now we can identify holes and identify areas where we're much deeper than maybe we thought we were by virtue of the extra playing time.”