Seager injury could open door for Healy at third

Seattle turns to last year's 1B at hot corner

March 10th, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. – With dealing with what could be a serious left wrist injury, first baseman will continue getting a look at third base as the Mariners wait to see how long they’ll be without their seven-year starter at the hot corner.

Seager was sidelined for a second straight day on Sunday after rolling the wrist diving for a ball down the line in Friday's loss to the Cubs.

The Mariners are expected to provide an update on Seager’s status on Monday morning, but early indications are the 31-year-old will be headed to the injured list and could be out for a fairly significant amount of time.

“The X-rays were negative, so we’re hoping for the best -- hoping it’s nothing too serious,” manager Scott Servais said. “But hands are tricky, especially in our game -- how important [they are]. We’ll have to wait and see. We’re just trying to immobilize it, get the swelling down. He’s got it wrapped up, so he won’t do anything on the field today.”

Healy appears to be the first option, as he was penciled in at third base for a second straight day in Sunday’s 16-2 Cactus League loss to the Indians and went 1-for-2 with a home run, though again not receiving much action defensively. The 27-year-old played 103 games at third base for the A’s in 2016-17, but manned that position for just two innings last season for the Mariners while serving as the club’s primary first baseman.

Utility players Kristopher Negron and Dylan Moore can both play third, with Moore starting at that spot in Sunday’s other split-squad game, a 9-6 win over the Angels in Tempe. Second-base prospect Shed Long has played a little third, as well, but he came off the bench in right field for Sunday’s game in Tempe, as the Mariners continue to look to expand his options.

Healy posted a .235/.277/.412 line, with 24 home runs and 73 RBIs, in 133 games last year at first base. He appears to be the odd man out in that battle this spring to Daniel Vogelbach and Edwin Encarnacion. Outfielder Jay Bruce is also expected to see some time at first.

Seager’s injury sped up the Mariners’ plans to give Healy a look at third base.

“He was going to get a look there anyway,” Servais said. “Obviously, this creates some more playing time for him -- and certainly Ryon has played quite a few games at third base in the big leagues. I know he hasn’t done it in a while, but it’s not like you’re putting somebody over there [who has] never been over there. 

“We’re not putting Vogey at third -- although I did ask him yesterday,” Servais said with a smile. “It was a joke. But we’ll run Ryon in there a bunch, along with Dylan Moore and Kris Negron and some of those other guys.”

One other possible candidate, depending on the time frame, is Tim Beckham. He’s pegged to open the year as the starting shortstop, but has started 42 games at third during his five seasons in the Majors. If the club wanted to keep 24-year-old J.P. Crawford at shortstop, Beckham would be an option at third.

“We could slide him over there,” Servais said. “We’re trying to make the best moves long term, [and see] what’s going on, where are we headed with this thing. We have to find out more about how long Kyle might be out and then see where we go from there.”

Strickland dealing with sore back

Veteran reliever Hunter Strickland, who is expected to be the Mariners’ closer to start the season, has been sidelined with tightness in his lower back and hasn’t pitched in a game for the past week.

Strickland looked strong early in camp, but gave up three hits and two runs in one inning in his last outing against the D-backs on March 3.

“He was feeling much better yesterday,” Servais said on Sunday morning. “He’ll get out and play catch today -- and if that goes [well], we’ll get him in a game here real quick. ... I’m not that concerned based on what the medical staff is telling me. I don’t think he did anything in the weight room or anything like that. He woke up one morning and his back was a little tight, so we want to make sure he’s 100 percent before he goes out there again.”

Worth noting

• Center fielder Mallex Smith continues progressing with his throwing and hitting in the cage, as he returns from a strained left elbow. He could begin taking batting practice for the first time all spring on Monday. Smith won’t be ready for Opening Day in Japan, with the question now being whether he’ll need to go on the 10-day injured list and miss the first seven games back in the United States, as well.

• Outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, the Mariners’ No. 15-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, was one of five non-roster invitees to Major League camp who were re-assigned to the Minor League camp on Sunday. Also sent out were right-handed pitchers Ryan Garton, Tyler Danish and Robin Leyer and left-hander Matt Tenuta.

That leaves 52 players still in Major League camp, with the club needing to get down to 30 prior to Thursday’s departure to Japan. Only 28 players can be on the roster for the two Opening Series games against the A’s in Tokyo on March 20-21, but the club will bring two extra players on the trip for insurance against injury during two exhibition games against the Yomiuri Giants.

Up next

Wade LeBlanc makes his final Cactus League start in Monday’s 6:40 p.m. PT game against the Royals at Peoria Stadium. The veteran southpaw will likely throw 4-5 innings in the televised contest, with Dan Altavilla, Shawn Armstrong, Cory Gearrin and possibly Strickland pitching in relief.