Nick Tepesch left in the second inning of tonight’s game against the Mariners after taking a Jesus Montero liner off of his right wrist. Gerry Fraley reports that the abrasion was visible, which is usually not a good sign.
This unfortunate news comes a day after Rangers GM said he is standing pat with his starting pitching. It is also the second time a Mariners hitter knocked out a Rangers pitcher with a line drive — Brad Miller hit Martin Perez in a spring training game.
Adam Morris, of SB Nation’s Rangers blog Lone Star Ball, suggests on Twitter that the Rangers’ options to replace Tepesch include current reliever Derek Lowe and Josh Lindblom, who has started two games with Triple-A Little Rock.
Pitching on his 32nd birthday, Hisashi Iwakuma outdueled Yu Darvish in a battle of Japanese starters Friday as the Mariners beat the Rangers 3-1.
Darvish opened the bottom of the first by hitting Jason Bay with one out and then giving up three singles, putting the Rangers in the early 3-0 hole. He was stellar afterwards, allowing no more hits, walking just one and striking out eight before leaving after six.
Iwakuma, though, was steadier. He spread out his three hits, so Ian Kinsler’s fourth-inning homer did only a little damage. He ended up striking out six and walking one in 6 2/3 innings.
The Mariners won with a makeshift outfield after losing Michael Saunders and Michael Morse to injuries the last two days. Raul Ibanez started in left, Endy Chavez played center and Bay started in right. Franklin Gutierrez, who was getting the night off, came in as a defensive replacement late.
Somewhat disappointing to the Mariners was that Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley continued to struggle. Those two have combined for 77 at-bats this year and still don’t have an extra-base hit between them. Jesus Montero, another player the Mariners were hoping would step up, sat in favor of Kelly Shoppach in this one.
UPDATE: Good news. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that Montero does not have a concussion.
5:01 PM: Scary moment in this afternoon’s Cactus League game between the Mariners and Indians.
According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero made an early exit after he was hit in the head by the backswing of Indians prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor. He was down on the ground for a few moments before getting to his feet and being carted off to the clubhouse. Baker notes that he looked “woozy” and had a big lump on his forehead.
Montero will presumably be sent for tests to rule out a possible concussion. It’s worth noting that he suffered a concussion last July when he took a foul tip off his facemask.
If Montero it turns out that he needs a stint on the disabled list, Kelly Shoppach would serve as the starting catcher. Baker speculates that the Mariners would likely carry Jesus Sucre as a backup, but they would have to add him to the 40-man roster.
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Seattle Mariners.
The Big Question: Are the Mariners finally on the right track?
Absolutely. After some bad high payroll teams a few years ago and then some trades which didn’t exactly inspire, it does now seem like the Mariners have a plan going forward.
They locked up Felix Hernandez. There is a young core which, admittedly, could go either way right now, but it is still a young core with upside: Hernandez, Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager. Tons of good arms on the farm including Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, which will either contribute in Seattle or serve as the basis for deals for offense at some point over the next couple of years.
There is a bright future in Seattle based on a lot of solid young players. It’s just not the kind of future likely to arrive earlier than expected due to none of them really being off-the-charts impact-type players. But unlike we’ve seen in the past, there are things to be hopeful for with the Mariners now. And that’s good, yes?
What else is going on?
- Has anyone gotten rich cornering the market on designated hitters? Because boy howdy do the Mariners have a lot of DH types: Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Jesus Montero and Jason Bay are all gonna break camp with this team. I mean, sure, those are all famous-to-sorta-famous baseball players, but how, exactly, is this supposed to work?
- Moving the fences in at Safeco Field — a home run to left center is now 17 feet closer than it was before — will be worth watching. It may bother the pitchers a bit, but one wonders if part of the reason for this is to get Seattle out of that rut where they can’t sign any power hitting free agents thanks to the perception that their offense will up and die. If Mike Morse suddenly goes off for 35 homers, does that not send a signal to others that Seattle — in a state with no state income tax — may be a nice place to land?
- The Mariners have also cornered the market on Saunderses. Michael and Joe Saunders, that is. Michael flashed some pop last year and could be something of a breakout candidate. He stole 21 bases too. One of those players who, because he plays in Seattle, people rarely notice. But he’s worth watching. Joe Saunders turned in his best season in years in 2012, based on a hot final couple of months. I wouldn’t bet on him carrying it all over or anything, but given all the arms the Mariners have hanging around he could be an attractive trade chit at the break if he pitches well.
- Call it a petty thing or even slam on the M’s, but there has to be some moral victory involved in not finishing in last place this year, right? I mean, no matter what happens, they’ll stay out of the cellar by virtue of the Houston Astros, yes?
So how are they gonna do?
Better. But still not enough juice to pass up Oakland, Texas or Anaheim. Fourth place, AL West. But Fourth place with a bullet.