Santana underwent an MRI ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against the Rangers at T-Mobile Park and was out of the starting lineup, though the results were not immediately available.
Santana said Wednesday morning that he’d been experiencing pain in the elbow since just before the All-Star break, but that it didn’t become burdensome enough to sideline him until Tuesday.
The issue flared up after Santana slid awkwardly when attempting to catch a blooper by Logan Forsythe, then made a hard throw to the plate trying to nab Rougned Odor, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Asdrubal Cabrera one at-bat later. Santana also said that he experiences pain in the elbow when swinging.
“I was feeling it for a little bit. I was just trying to get comfortable,” Santana said. “Just some red-hot [ointment] in there to try and keep it warm and stuff and not try to think about it, but we're working it out.”
Santana is slashing .273/.342/.472 with 19 homers over 437 plate appearances and 100 games. Through his first month with Seattle, after coming over in a Dec. 21 trade that sent Ben Gamel to Milwaukee, Santana was one of the top hitters in the American League, slashing .292/.359/.485.
The Mariners obviously liked the potential that Santana offered (he homered 30 times in a breakout 2017 before regressing some in ’18), but Santana has even exceeded expectations. He’s been the club’s top run producer, with 65 RBIs that rank tied for ninth in the AL.
“Domingo is a big part of everything in the middle of our lineup,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He's struggled a little bit here recently -- his timing has been off some -- but he's a big threat, certainly when we face left-handed pitching because we are so left-handed dominant offensively. He's just a big part of keeping it balanced.”
Santana has stumbled in the second half of the season, hitting .143/.211/.229 since the All-Star break, with 16 strikeouts in 35 at-bats. Santana grounded out to third base during his only at-bat Tuesday against Rangers opener Brett Martin.
Also on Tuesday, the Mariners placed second baseman Dee Gordon on the 10-day injured list with a strained left quad. The club is also without infielder Ryon Healy, who is recovering from spinal stenosis, and right fielder Mitch Haniger, who is slowly working back into baseball activities after rupturing his testicle on June 6. Outfield prospect Braden Bishop, who was earning more playing time due to the club’s attrition, has begun ramping up his rehab from a lacerated spleen, but he hasn’t yet taken live BP.
Infielder Tim Lopes took the roster spot of right-hander Parker Markel on Tuesday when Markel was designated for assignment, but Lopes didn’t arrive at T-Mobile Park until an hour before first pitch because he was racing in from Reno, Nev., where he had just landed from SeaTac with the Rainiers. Tacoma manager Daren Brown told Lopes that he’d need to immediately turn around.
“At that moment, I don't even know what was going through my mind. It's all kind of a blur,” Lopes said. “I just started crying. I gave him a big hug. He gave me a big hug. I just felt the genuineness in his voice. I was just happy to experience that with him.”
A middle infielder who broke camp in spring with the direction to become more defensively versatile, Lopes will likely see most action at second base, where he’s played in 624 of his 840 career Minor League games.
His bat-to-ball skills have taken a significant step forward this season at Tacoma, where he is slashing .302/.362/.480 -- up from his .277/.339/.382 career mark over eight Minor League seasons -- and riding a 14-game hitting streak. Lopes will be the 12th Mariners player to make his MLB debut.
Strickland’s rehab continues
Right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland (right lat strain) continued his rehab assignment on Tuesday and gave up a home run on a hanging breaking ball as one of two hits allowed during the sixth inning of Tacoma’s game at Reno. Strickland will need to make at least one more rehab start, and specifically polish his secondary pitches, before returning to the big league club, Servais said. Strickland said last weekend that he was hopeful he’d be activated before the end of the Mariners’ 10-game homestand on Sunday against the Tigers.