Crawford begins serving reduced suspension

July 1st, 2022

SEATTLE -- Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford began his suspension on Thursday for fighting during last weekend’s ugly, benches-clearing incident in Anaheim, after the sanction was reduced from five games to four following an appeal.

Left fielder Jesse Winker, who received a seven-game ban, will likely serve his suspension immediately after Crawford returns for Monday’s series opener in San Diego. Winker is also appealing and his process has not yet been completed.

Julio Rodríguez, who received a two-game suspension, has not received further clarity on his situation and is still sorting out the appeal process with his agents at Wasserman and the MLB Players Association.

In the press release from Major League Baseball issuing the suspensions, Rodríguez was cited for suspension “for his actions,” which was less descriptive than the details for Winker and Crawford, both of whom were disciplined “for fighting.” Rodríguez has said that he did not throw punches in the incident that resulted in 12 players and coaches from both teams receiving suspensions.

Crawford is still permitted to use the Mariners’ facilities at T-Mobile Park and will continue to do so throughout the weekend, but he planned to return home and watch the four-game series against Oakland from there. He hit off a velocity machine on Thursday to help keep his timing.

In Crawford’s stead, utilityman Dylan Moore will see all of the action at shortstop, manager Scott Servais said. Moore is one of the Mariners’ better athletes and has filled in formidably for the 2020 Gold Glove Award winner when needed, but his .163/.320/.306 (.626 OPS) worth of production is a dip from Crawford, who is hitting .261/.343/.381 (.724 OPS) and is a key piece at the top of Seattle’s lineup.

Crawford has missed just five games this year, including two this month due to food poisoning, after leading the Mariners with 160 games played last year. The Mariners are already without key contributors Kyle Lewis, Mitch Haniger and Ty France due to injuries.

“It’s certainly unfortunate for us,” Servais said. “Everybody knows what he does leading off and playing shortstop, but we will abide by the rules and the rulings that are out there.”

Winker hasn’t matched his All-Star production from last year with Cincinnati, but he has come on lately, hitting .349/.500/.558 (1.058 OPS) over his past 15 games dating back to June 15, one day after he was notably held out of the starting lineup. Winker was front and center during Sunday’s incident as the player who was hit by the 92.9 mph fastball from the Angels’ Andrew Wantz, which sparked the fracas.

And Rodríguez has emerged as arguably the Mariners’ best all-around player, leading the team with 2.4 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs, while accomplishing some remarkable athletic feats. His absence, should the suspension remain in place, will loom large.

The Mariners were informed from the outset that they would be able to stagger the suspensions, so they wouldn’t be forced to play without all three at once since they are unable to add reinforcements to the roster and will have to play short-handed.