Notes: Long returns; Graveman to Tacoma

June 9th, 2021

DETROIT -- Shed Long Jr.’s long road to recovery from a stress fracture in his right shin has finally culminated with a return to the big leagues. Seattle’s second baseman was reinstated from the 60-day injured list on Monday and was in the Mariners’ lineup for the series opener against the Tigers on Tuesday, batting sixth. This was his first big league action since undergoing surgery last September.

“It's just a blessing to be back, man,” Long said. “It was a long journey. There definitely were some challenging times in this time of recovery.”

Long hit .323/.417/.516 over a seven-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma and said he hasn’t experienced any pain in the area since the early leg of Minors spring training in mid-April. In big league camp, he was limited to just on-field batting practice and almost no field work due to his limitations making quick-cut plays, particularly stopping while carrying momentum.

He rejoins the club at a time where everyday second baseman Dylan Moore is on the 10-day IL with a calf injury, though Moore began his rehab assignment with Tacoma on Monday and could be close to returning.

That leaves the spot to Long for now, who the club committed the gig to ahead of the 2020 season, which proved to be a disappointing season beyond the injury; he hit .171/.242/.291 with a 50 OPS+.

“I think I experienced a few setbacks,” Long said. “I definitely expected to be back quicker than this. But I don't think we've done anything wrong. … It was a bone issue. And the thing about the bone is, you can't speed it up.”

Graveman set to join Tacoma

Closer Kendall Graveman will join Tacoma in the coming days as part of a tuneup assignment to face opposing hitters, given that he hasn’t done so since May 16.

The right-hander will likely only need to make one such outing, Mariners manager Scott Servais said, which means there’s an outside shot that he could rejoin the club on its road trip that lasts through Sunday. Graveman remains on the COVID IL, but he’s cleared all protocols and has been allowed to use the team’s facilities in Seattle.

Through the first six weeks of the season, he’d blossomed into one of the top relievers in the American League, ranking sixth with 0.7 wins above replacement. He also has yet to allow a run in 16 2/3 innings this season.

Thomas’ 10-year path to The Show

Dillon Thomas has spent a decade in professional baseball, mostly in the lower Minors. He even played in the Independent Texas League in 2018. That’s what made his recent phone call with Mariners director of player development Andy McKay so emotional.

Seattle selected Thomas’ contract from Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday, marking the first time that the 28-year-old has been on a Major League roster.

The first people he called were his parents, then after, he shared an emotional moment with his family.

“We both kind of started crying, then our daughter came over and was like, ‘Daddy, what’s wrong?’” Thomas said. “I was like, ‘Daddy's going to the big leagues,’ and she got excited and said, ‘Daddy is a big leaguer!’ And so I think that's what kind of made the moment for me.”

Thomas has been tearing it up at Tacoma, hitting .338/.459/.625 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 25 games. He’ll provide some much-needed outfield depth with Kyle Lewis out indefinitely with a knee injury and Jarred Kelenic sent down to Tacoma on Monday.

In a corresponding move, catcher/first baseman Jacob Nottingham was designated for assignment.