Notes: White, France to IL; catcher situation

May 15th, 2021

SEATTLE -- is heading to the 10-day injured list with a strained left hip flexor that he sustained while diving for a ball late in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Cleveland, and is joining him with left wrist inflammation that has lingered since Seattle’s series in Houston two weeks ago.

Infielders Donovan Walton and Jack Mayfield were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma in corresponding moves announced by the Mariners on Friday.

Though White has struggled to get going offensively -- he’s currently in a 3-for-42 skid -- the 25-year-old first baseman's absence will create a defensive void given the limited options to replace him. José Marmolejos started there on Friday, but he’s batting just .145/.274/.323 and has zero hits against lefties.

France would be the strongest fit, if he wasn't also injured. But he hasn’t been the same since taking a 98.4 mph fastball from the Dodgers’ Dustin May off the wrist -- though it was his other wrist -- on April 19. He’s hitting .157/.263/.229 in 80 plate appearances since, with his OPS dropping from a team-best .936 to .700 over that stretch.

France, the Mariners’ best contact hitter when healthy, has been hit by a team-high five pitches this season and was brushed back on a 98.3 mph heater headed toward his chin from Emmanuel Clase during the ninth inning on Thursday. He’s 2-for-38 since the Houston series, and he’s had visible struggles getting his barrel to the ball, with an onslaught of high popups since.

“I don't think anybody's throwing at him on purpose,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I don't think he feels that either. But he does cover the ball out away, and typically those guys get a few more pitches inside to keep them honest.”

Dylan Moore, who was the club’s utilityman from 2019-20, has experience at first base, and his bat has gotten going in the past six games, over which he’s gone 6-for-20 with two homers since start of the most recent road trip on May 7. It’s likely he’ll be used there soon since that would free up second base for Walton, a utility infielder. There’s also a possibility Luis Torrens sees time there in a pinch.

Walton brings 12 games of big league experience, with a .172/.273/.207 slash line, and he was off to a 10-for-32 start at Tacoma. Mayfield has 49 games of MLB experience over three seasons, including 2021 with the Angels. He’s a career .165/.193/.275 hitter and has eight years and 100 homers' worth of Minor League experience.

Breaking down the catching situation
Speaking of Torrens, he and Tom Murphy have had a nearly identical split behind the plate -- 163 2/3 innings and 164, respectively -- and the Mariners will continue to dictate playing time based on matchups.

Torrens had a major mental mistake that proved to be costly in a 9-8 loss on Sunday in Arlington. He's also been unable to block quite a few breaking balls in the dirt that have bounced through his legs, including one on Thursday on a third strike that put a runner on base and forced rookie Logan Gilbert to face an extra batter. As such, the newly-minted starter didn’t get the chance to pitch an extra inning in his debut.

Murphy is the superior defender and play caller, but he has just a .364 OPS against righties and a .136/.197/.303 slash line overall. Torrens is hitting .198/.235/.333 with a .618 OPS against righties and a .452 mark against lefties.

“Murph’s got really good history against left-handed pitching in the league,” Servais said. “So, most of times and there's a lefty out there, I’d like to give them that opportunity to see if you can get going and do a little damage there. But just kind of mixing and matching right now. I'd like to get one, or perfect world, get both of them going offensively.

“Right now, I’m trying to get as much out of that duo as we can. So, you might give a guy three or four days in a row and see if I can get them kind of jump-started.”

Switch-hitting Cal Raleigh, the Mariners’ No. 8 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is 6-for-25 with a homer and five RBIs in six games at Tacoma, and while he would seem like a strong fit to shake things up, a source indicated that he’s a little further off. But, barring health issues, Raleigh will make his MLB debut at some point in 2021.