It was a very busy day for the Mariners, and now it’s time to sort out the ramifications of all the moves.
For starters, Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and Endy Chavez was selected from Triple-A Tacoma to take his spot. The move just became official once Chavez arrived from Sacramento. Pitcher D.J. Mitchell, who came from the Yankees in the Ichiro trade, was designated for assignment to make room for Chavez on the 40-man roster. He had been added to the 40-man at the end of spring training in a procedural move that allowed them to DFA Casper Wells.
Chavez was hitting a red-hot .429 (12-for-28) for Tacoma. His ability to play center field made him a more attractive option than Eric Thames, despite the fact Thames is already on the 40-man roster and hitting .464 (13-for-28) for Tacoma.
The news on Saunders is as good as can be expected: An AC sprain in his right shoulder, with no structural damage. Saunders was given a sling, but said he has no plans to use it, noting that he can put his shirt on and take it off by himself. Here’s how he described the play in which he got hurt crashing into the wall to catch a drive by Jose Altuve:
“With Altuve, I was playing him fairly shallow and shaded toward the line. He ended up getting into a ball. The ball beat me to the wall. I was running full speed, kind of head down. It was kind of a bang-bang play. I was glad I was able to hold onto it.
“When I hit the wall and fell over, everything sort of went numb. My initial reaction, I thought my collarbone. I definitely thought something was wrong. However, out of a bad situation, it was the best-case scenario, the best outcome that could have happened. Right now, I have a sprained AC joint. It is what it is. We have to wait for the inflammation to go down. As soon as that happens, we can get to work on it. I’m going to bust my ass to work hard to get back in there. It’s not a serious injury, so that’s encouraging. But it certainly is going to be a couple of days.”
A minimum of 15, to be exact. Manager Eric Wedge said of Saunders, “He’s better today. He’s feeling it obviously. It’s going to be a couple weeks at least so we had to put him on the DL, and trust me he didn’t want to go on the DL. He’s got that hockey player mentality. But we had to do what’s best for him and what’s best for the ball club.”
Now, on to the pitching. Newly acquired Aaron Harang gets here tomorrow, and will throw a bullpen session. Until he does so, and the Mariners see what kind of shape he’s in, they aren’t making any decisions yet on what his role will be. Harang was built up as a starter all spring by the Dodgers, but once the season started, Harang wasn’t in their rotation. He went to the bullpen but never appeared in any games, and then went into limbo when he was traded to the Rockies on Saturday and immediately designated for assignment.
GM Jack Zduriencik said Harang has been staying in shape, even throwing a simulated game yesterday at San Diego State. The Mariners are leaving open the possibility that he could either join the rotation or work out of the bullpen.
“When he gets here tomorrow and looks us all in the eye, we can get a gauge of where he’s at, see how his bullpen session works out,’’ Zduriencik said. “I think you have to get a feel for where he’s at physically. What he said on the phone was positive, but until he does his bullpen session…The fact he’s going to bump somebody is a little premature right now, but he is a starting pitcher. If he’s in good shape and his pitch count is where it needs to be and his bullpen is successful, I think we’ll address it after that.”
Jon Heyman of CBS reported that the Mariners will pay Harang $1.5 million of his $7 million salary. Zduriencik said the financial considerations were worked out this morning They needed to be approved by the commissioner because the Mariners are receiving more than $1 million. Zduriencik said Harang was on the Mariners’ radar throughout spring training because of the Dodgers’ surplus of starters. The deal was consummated yesterday, on the heels of struggles by both Blake Beavan and Brandon Maurer. But Zduriencik said the trade went beyond their struggles.
“Our biggest need came about when Erasmo (Ramirez) wasn’t able to step up for us. He’s going to miss a little bit of time on the DL,’’ Zduriencik said. “We didn’t think Jeremy (Bonderman) was ready to come up here yet. He still needs to pitch in Triple-A. So you have your ears open. With those two not available right now, we thought bringing someone in like Aaron, who has been a real quality pitcher at the major-league level and had a good year last year, it fit well.”