Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain, the club announced Friday. Zunino reportedly sustained the injury during batting practice on Wednesday and had yet to make his season debut for Seattle. At this point, it’s not clear exactly how long his recovery process will take.
The 27-year-old was pegged to be the Mariners’ starting backstop again this season. He made a strong showing in camp with a .395/.458/.791 batting line and five home runs in 17 Cactus League games with the club. This is the first time he’s landed on the disabled list in five years, when he missed six weeks of the 2013 season after undergoing wrist surgery. It’s possible that his oblique injury won’t require such a lengthy recovery; then again, MLB.com’s Greg Johns points out that both Mitch Haniger and Ben Gamel were sidelined between 4-6 weeks with similar injuries. Either way, it’s clear the Mariners will have to get creative as they try to compensate for his loss.
A corresponding move was made to recall catcher David Freitas from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. The Mariners also have rookie Mike Marjama waiting in the wings, though neither catcher has Zunino’s extensive major league experience behind the dish. Marjama took the reins on Thursday and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against the Indians’ Corey Kluber. Freitas is expected to join the team on Saturday and will likely make his first start of the season sometime afterwards.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.