SEATTLE -- Mariners catcher Mike Zunino bruised his left ankle while running the bases in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Angels and was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Thursday's 4-1 win over the Halos at Safeco Field.The Mariners recalled catcher David Freitas from
SEATTLE -- Mariners catcher Mike Zunino bruised his left ankle while running the bases in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Angels and was placed on the 10-day disabled list prior to Thursday's 4-1 win over the Halos at Safeco Field.
The Mariners recalled catcher David Freitas from Triple-A Tacoma to take Zunino's place on the roster, while backup Chris Herrmann started Thursday, hitting a solo home run for his first RBI with Seattle.
Manager Scott Servais indicated after Thursday's win that Zunino likely won't be back until after the All-Star break.
"Z's going to be out for a little while. We're probably looking at 2-3 weeks," Servais said. "With the sprained ankle, I don't have an exact timeline on it. We've got the All-Star break coming up. We do have some off-days, which helps, not losing him for that many games, but we'll see. I don't want to push it too soon. He's disappointed. Kind of a freak deal. Things happen. We'll get him back as soon as we can."
Zunino won't be eligible to return from the DL until Seattle's final game before the All-Star break on July 15 at Colorado, which is a big blow for a club fighting for the American League West lead. Though he's hitting .189 with 12 homers and 29 RBIs, the 27-year-old has been outstanding behind the plate and a big part of the Mariners' pitching success.
This will be Zunino's second stint on the DL this season as he missed the first 17 games of the season with a strained left oblique. His latest injury caught the Mariners by surprise.
"I wasn't aware of it until this morning," Servais said prior to Thursday's game. "He told the trainers last night when he left he rolled it and woke up this morning pretty stiff, so it's not good news, but things happen."
Servais believes Zunino hurt the ankle while going from first to third on a double by Denard Span in the ninth inning on Wednesday. Zunino had singled to lead off the ninth and was ultimately thrown out at the plate trying to score on an infield grounder by Jean Segura.
Zunino didn't start Wednesday's game and spent pregame working on his swing with Minor League field coordinator Mike Micucci, then walked and singled in two at-bats after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh to raise his average to .189.
"His at-bats yesterday were outstanding," Servais said. "Just seeing the ball, tracking the ball much better. He made a little adjustment in his setup and quieted his head down. Got the walk, put a good swing on a ball. … It's disappointing that he may be out for [a while]."
Herrmann has played just six games and made five starts since being called up from Tacoma on May 27, including five after returning from a stint on the disabled list with a strained right oblique. He's mostly caught Mike Leake's outings, plus Felix Hernandez's last start in Baltimore, so it will be a sharp learning curve for the six-year veteran.
"Thankfully with all the video and information we have here, it makes it a lot easier to get to know the pitchers a lot better," Herrmann said. "And I sit in here and talk with these guys and get an idea of how they want to get hitters out."
Ideally pitchers and catchers form a lot of those bonds during Spring Training, but Herrmann wasn't signed as a Minor League free agent until a week into the season after being released by the D-backs.
"That has been the biggest challenge for me," Herrmann said. "I started out in Tacoma and had to get know all those guys. I gained their trust and now I'm up here, I have to gain the trust of these guys. A lot of that has to do with just paying attention to little things and preparation. Just caring about how they do."
Felix's sore back improving
Hernandez has been dealing with a stiff back for a while, even before his last outing Saturday against the Royals. But the veteran right-hander said he was feeling better Thursday and will make his next start as expected in Friday's series opener against the Rockies.
"I'm better today," Hernandez said before going out and playing catch in the outfield prior to Thursday's game. "Yesterday was much better and I'm more loose today, so I'll be fine."
Hernandez hurt his back lifting weights in Baltimore on the last road trip and had trouble getting loose in the first inning of his Saturday start against the Royals, giving up three quick runs. But he recovered and wound up getting the win with a five-inning effort and is 8-6 with a 5.11 ERA on the year.
Hernandez threw a short bullpen session on Tuesday and has spent this week receiving treatment.
"I think he'll be OK," Servais said. "He's getting treatment on it and trying to get it loosened up. I don't think it's anything structurally wrong, it's just tight. We need him to go. Hopefully he'll give us a good effort."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.