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.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.