Long's season ends with shin stress fracture

September 12th, 2020

Among the young players looking to establish themselves this year with the Mariners, there have been a number of success stories.

But things haven’t gone nearly as well for , and the 25-year-old second baseman’s frustrating season has now ended with a stress fracture in his right shin, as he was placed on the 10-day injured list on Friday and is seeking medical opinions on how to proceed.

Long looked so good last September that he was given the starting second-base job and leadoff role this season despite having just 42 games of MLB experience. But he struggled offensively and posted just a .171/.242/.291 slash line with three home runs and nine RBIs in 34 games before going on the IL.

Long had already lost his starting job and was expected to get some time in left field and at designated hitter as the Mariners took a look at newly acquired Ty France as well as the hot-hitting Dylan Moore at second base in the closing weeks.

Instead, Long is now sidelined completely and will look to get healthy this offseason. Long said his leg has bothered him since Spring Training, but it became a bigger issue three weeks ago when he fouled a ball off his shin in Texas.

“It was bothering me a little bit and gradually got worse and worse,” Long said. “It was something I was battling through. But it was my choice and I wanted to play. Who wants to come off the field? Definitely not me.”

Long said he didn’t know how much the issue affected his offensive production.

“I’m not a guy that will say this happened because of this or I wasn’t swinging because of this,” he said. “I just wasn’t getting it done. It probably impacted me more than I know, but that was something I wasn’t trying to think about. It was my choice to play through it, so I was going out and trying to do what I had to do to help the team win.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais said he didn’t know how much the situation affected Long’s offensive production, either.

“I know he didn’t have the season he was looking to have,” Servais said. “I do think Shed made a lot of progress in other areas of his game. His defense and the work he put in on getting comfortable at second base and all the nuances around the bag with the different arm angles and throws. I thought he made huge improvement there.”

Servais noted that the window isn’t closing on Long, though he’ll be in a different situation next spring.

“With a lot of our players, they’re so young and you don’t want to take just a small little sample size and say, ‘OK this guy isn’t going to figure it out,’” Servais said. “You have to be patient with it because very few guys just come to the big leagues and stick for six, eight, 10 years. … We have a lot of guys that are young with a lot of upside. We still love Shed. I definitely think there’s opportunity for him, but obviously, now we can’t look at that again until next year.”

As for why he tried to play through the issue, Long left little doubt.

“You tell any person in America or anywhere for that matter that they’re going to be the starting second baseman for any Major League team, that’s not an opportunity that’s always presented to you,” Long said. “No matter what, I’m trying to make the most of this opportunity.

“There’s pain there, but I think I can make it through it. I’m a high pain-tolerance guy. There’s a lot I can deal with. I can take this pain and still go. You tell any 25-year-old young man that this is your job, who is going to say no?”