The Mariners originally expressed optimism that David Aardsma would be ready for the start of the season after hip surgery, but general manager Jack Zduriencik told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times yesterday that the surgery was more extensive than first expected and that the right-hander might not be ready for Opening Day.
Aardsma, who turned 29 last month, has a 2.92 ERA and 129/59 K/BB ratio over the past two seasons with the Mariners, where he has spent the majority of the time as the team’s closer. The Mariners were reportedly shopping the arbitration-eligible reliever around the time of the Winter Meetings, but those efforts will be put on the back burner for now.
Brandon League should be the favorite to handle save opportunities in Aardsma’s absence. League, who turns 28 in March, posted a 3.42 ERA and 56/27 K/B ratio over 79 innings last season. He led all American League relievers with a ground ball rate of 62.8 percent.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.