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June 10, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Michael Morse would be on DL already if Justin Smoak healthy

The Mariners are wearing down physically from the strain of too many veteran players being used day in and day out to compensate for injuries and non-performance. Photo Credit: AP

The Mariners are wearing down physically from the strain of too many veteran players being used day in and day out to compensate for injuries and non-performance. Photo Credit: AP

There has been some growing debate — I think justified — over why the Mariners have dithered so long about putting Michael Morse on the 15-day disabled list. Morse missed seven games in a row, then went 1-for-11 the first three games of the Yankees’ series before sitting out yesterday.

He’s back in there tonight at DH as the Mariners take on the Houston Astros. Mariners manager Eric Wedge spoke earlier today about how hamstrung the team has been in the face of recent injuries. Justin Smoak could go out on a minor league rehab assignment in coming days, but there is no exact timetable.

Just on a whim, I asked Wedge — already knowing the answer — whether Morse would have gone on the DL had Smoak been healthy.

“Yes,” Wedge replied, with a laugh.

‘Nuff said.

And that’s the problem these Mariners face. Key injuries and non-production by full-time younger players has put an undue strain on many veteran full-time and part-time players.

Without Smoak, the Mariners have to keep Morse around. Only they can’t play Morse and his sore quad in the field — either at first base or right field — so, the same vets who shouldn’t be in there every day are. Kendrys Morales is back in at first base today, two days after leaving a game with back stiffness. He can’t play the field seven days per week.

In the outfield, you’ve got Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay now playing seven days per week because they can’t be spelled by Morse. You’ve got Endy Chavez playing center field tonight simply because Michael Saunders has been absolutely horrible at the plate for five solid weeks.

But the problem is, Chavez is no longer completely healthy because of all the work he got playing the outfield in April and May.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 6.25.10 PM

Remember, this is a guy who was a free agent late in spring training and signed by Seattle to a minor league deal because no team thought of him as a regular player any more.

I asked Wedge what the status of Chavez’s health is.

“His legs are bothering him a little bit,” Wedge said. “But he’s manning up and going out there. Saunders is struggling, so we’re going to give him a day. I’ve been giving Chavez periodic days, too, as you’ve noticed. But he’s OK. He’s good enough to play.”

Good enough, but not great. This team needed the Saunders of 2012 to take over in center in place of Franklin Gutierrez. Not the facsimile we’ve seen. Thing is, the team can’t send Saunders to AAA because there is nobody else around who can play the position every day at the big league level.

Kelly Shoppach is catching again tonight and his offensive numbers have plummeted after the Jesus Sucre injury and the Jesus Montero deterioration prior to that have effectively made him a full-time regular this past month. No offense to Brandon Bantz and his story of making it to the majors, but there’s no way the Mariners want to see him on the field more than once in a blue moon.

In other words, the Mariners are in a bind.

“We’re in the trenches right now,” Wedge said. “We’re grinding.”

They’ll be buried in those trenches, too, if reinforcements don’t get here quickly.

0 Comments | More in injuries | Topics: michael morse; justin smoak; eric wedge; endy chavez

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