Manager Scott Servais numbered his injury updates, one through six, Monday afternoon as the Seattle Mariners returned to T-Mobile Park for a stretch of 11 consecutive home games.
Three relievers, two infielders and former club ace Felix Hernandez are still on the mend, meaning the Mariners’ roster has turned over several times during May with players bouncing to and from the injured list. The inconsistencies created in the starting rotation, bullpen and infield have all played a part in Seattle’s (23-32) recent slide to the American League West basement.
For second baseman Dee Gordon, who is on the 10-day IL with a right wrist injury, watching the club slip from a promising start so quickly — including losing all six games of the most recent road trip to Texas and Oakland — made him want to rush back to the field.
The Mariners are winless since Gordon and Ryon Healy were placed on the IL.
“That’s the reason for me trying to come back so fast — trying to just help,” Gordon said. “It definitely wasn’t enjoyable to see your brothers out there struggling, and not being able to help them.”
Gordon was initially injured on May 9, when Yankees starter J.A. Happ hit him in the wrist with a pitch. Gordon wasn’t placed on the IL right away, returned to the lineup days later, and played in seven games before eventually landing on the IL a week ago.
Servais said Gordon’s injury is a deep bone bruise, and while there is no definitive timetable on Gordon’s return, he is set to likely resume baseball activity this week.
“Honestly man, it’s my fault,” Gordon said. “I should have not come back and played that fast. But, I just wanted to help the guys.”
Gordon is eligible to return to the lineup on May 31. Whether or not he is ready then depends on how he progresses in the coming days, Servais said.
“We’ll have to wait and see when he starts swinging the bat, and the vibration off the bat,” Servais said. “That would be the true tell on that one.”
Healy, who was placed on the 10-day IL the same day Gordon was, after exiting last week’s series opener in Arlington with lower back stiffness, also has yet to resume baseball activity. Servais said Healy, who has had a similar issue with back tightness in the past, would likely miss more time than Gordon.
“He’s feeling better,” Servais said. “It has loosened up. We’ll see ... when he can start moving around and swinging the bat.”
Right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland, who was Seattle’s closer until being placed on the 60-day IL with a right lat strain during the opening homestand, is getting closer. He could start throwing off the mound by the end of the week.
“He really feels good about things,” Servais said. “I saw him play catch over in Oakland. He’s getting on it, it’s like 100 percent, he’s out to 120-some feet. He’s anxious to get on the mound.”
Hernandez, on the 10-day IL with a similar injury, could get on the mound later in the weekend or early next week. He is playing catch up to 105 feet.
Meanwhile, right-handed relievers Sam Tuivailala (right Achilles rupture) and Gerson Bautista (right pectoral strain) — who were both recently retroactively transferred to the 60-day IL — continue to rehab with Triple-A Tacoma.
Servais said Bautista’s velocity is there — he has reached as high as 100 mph multiple times on the Cheney Stadium radar gun — and he is progressing. Tuivailala was scheduled to pitch for the Rainiers on Monday night.
“We’ll see where he’s at,” Servais said. “With Tui, that’s a major injury he had on the Achilles. I think he’s nine months out right around now. That’s anywhere 10-12 months until you get fully back 100 percent and everything’s clicking again.
“We’ll certainly monitor how he does tonight. It’s been progressing, it’s just been a little bit slower, come arm strength. The Achilles, there’s no issues with the lower half, it’s just getting his timing together with the arm.”
‘STEP BACK’ SEASON
Entering Monday night’s series opener against Texas, the Mariners’ six-game losing streak matches their worst stretch of the season (also, April 12-17 and April 28-May 4).
General manager Jerry Dipoto made clear during the offseason that this would be a “step back” season for Seattle, but how tough is it to look at the bigger picture day-in and day-out during the season?
“You’re in the heat of the battle, you want to win the ballgame,” Servais said. “We believe every night when we walk out there we should win, we should play a good game, and we should be right in it. ... We haven’t really been able to put much together. It does get frustrating for the players. They want to win. I want to win.
“I do think when you pull back from it and the game’s over, OK, evaluate what we saw today. What are the positives? Where do we need to get better? And, I’ve said all along, the goal here was just to continue to get better. And, can we keep it moving in the right direction? We’re in a lull right now.”
Servais said there have been improvements. Shortstop J.P. Crawford, a big piece of the Mariners’ future, has hit safely in 11 of 15 games, and reached base safely in 13 of 15 games he’s played since being recalled from Tacoma. Servais said he’s liked what he’s seen out of Domingo Santana, who was 6-for-13 with two homers and three RBIs during the Oakland series, after making a swing adjustment.
“We’re just going to continue to work our tails off and try to move it in the right direction,” Servais said. “Does it make it easy? No. I wan’t to win every night. But, I do understand there’s a process tied to this thing, and everybody understands that as far as coaching staff, organizationally where we’re at. But, I want to win.”
There’s plenty more to work on Servais said, specifically defensive consistency. The Mariners still led the majors in errors with 59 entering Monday.
“Offense is always going to go up and down, based on pitching, guys get hot, they cool off,” Servais said. “The defense has probably been the most frustrating thing early on, and we’ll continue to work at it and do everything we can there to get up to major league standard.
“We’re not playing major league standard defense, in my opinion, on a regular basis. We’ll have certain stretches, a game here or there, but it’s got to be consistent stretches, and we haven’t done that.”
The Mariners claimed 27-year-old right-handed reliever Jimmy Cordero off waivers from Toronto on Monday. He will report to Tacoma.
Bautista was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL in a corresponding move. The 40-man roster remains full.
Cordero was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on May 23 after pitching in one game, and allowing one run in 1 1/3 innings, while recording a loss. He was claimed off waivers by Toronto from the Nationals on May 15.