Injuries Hit Mariners Early

Any hope that the Mariners used up all of their bad injury luck last year was dashed in the first week of spring training camp.

First it was first baseman Ryon Healy, out four-to-six weeks with wrist surgery.

Then it was starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, who is out for several weeks with a strained lat.

Now it is top prospect Kyle Lewis, who is still having trouble with his surgically repaired right knee. He underwent another surgery to have the knee “cleaned up” and the current hope is that he’ll be able to play by late April.

At least it is early in spring training. Healy should be able to return in early April; and the team has in-house candidates like Dan Vogelbach, Matt Hague, and Mike Ford to cover for a week or two if needed.

The loss of Erasmo Ramirez is concerning, due to the nature of the injury. The M’s are confident that they caught the injury early and he won’t be out long, but I’ve seen lat issues knock out pitchers for months.

The latest Lewis news is another blow to the farm system. He is considered a potential impact player in the majors, but he just hasn’t been able to get on the field. Hopefully this latest procedure will resolve the issue.

As Mariners fans, shouldn’t we be done with all of this? We’ve paid our dues.

Major League Baseball announced the pace-of-play rules it will be implementing in 2018, and they came up with an intriguing idea that does not include a pitch clock.

We use the pitch clock in the PCL, and it works wonders to shorten games when the rules are enforced by the umpires. However, the umpires rarely enforced the rules in 2017, and we lost the gains that had been made in terms of trimming time of game.

Maybe MLB doesn’t want to deal with umpires arbitrarily enforcing pitch clock rules, because the plan for 2018 is to cut down mound visits instead.

Each team is now allowed just six mound visits per game. This is total visits by coaches and players – including the catcher.

I like it. Catchers constantly visiting the mound to talk to the pitcher really bogs down the game. Some catchers are serial offenders (though the catchers might say it is certain pitchers that cause them to have many meetings).

This may cause a slight change in the way signals are delivered between pitcher and catcher, and also from the dugout to the battery. I’m curious to see the end result.

And look for a few early season blowups between managers and umpires regarding what actually constitutes a mound visit. The rules are pretty clear, but you can imagine all kinds of vague situations on the fringes. Here’s one: runners are on base, catcher walks several feet in front of home to flash defensive signals to the infielders, pitcher walks a few steps in front of the mound rubbing up a new baseball and they exchange words 20 feet apart from one another. Is that a mound visit?

It will be interesting to see if the new rules cut down dead time. You can find the new MLB rules right here.

For now, I have not heard of any changes in the PCL. I assume we are continuing with the pitch clocks, and I do think it makes sense to add the mound visit rule since the majors are using it. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Links:

  • Matt Calkins has a good column on the limiting of mound visits.
  • Ryan Divish has the entire Kyle Lewis injury history right here. One very nasty plate collision at short-season Everett has had a lasting impact.
  • Here’s the story on Erasmo Ramirez‘s lat strain.
  • James Paxton is doing many things to try to stay healthy this year, including changes to his diet.
  • John McGrath doesn’t think the relationship between Felix Hernandez and the Mariners is going to end well.
  • Mariners closer Edwin Diaz wants to pitch like a veteran on the mound.
  • Ryan Divish tweeted a photo of Rainiers manager Pat Listach and former manager Daren Brown from Peoria.
  • Celebrity Tacoma Rainiers fan and ceremonial first pitch thrower Isaiah Thomas had his number retired at the University of Washington on Saturday.
  • Bryce Brentz – who won the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby at Cheney Stadium last summer – is on the move. With no room for him in the big leagues, the Red Sox sold him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to play there.
  • Good read of the week: when utility infielder Ryan Flaherty left the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent a few days ago, a columnist wrote about how incredibly rare and difficult it is to reach the major leagues. It’s a reminder of how elite the Triple-A players we watch are.

Check back on Friday for our final spring training positional preview, when we look at the 2018 Tacoma Rainiers bullpen candidates.

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