The Mariners have won three straight and sit just two games back in the AL West, but they have another significant challenge in front of them. One week removed from losing Robinson Cano for 80 games due to a failed drug test for a banned substance, the club announced Tuesday that Dee Gordon is headed to the disabled list with a fractured right great toe.
The issue has been a nagging one for Gordon, as he missed a game earlier this month after fouling a ball off his foot. One would imagine such an injury makes it very difficult to utilize his speed, at least at anywhere close to 100 percent. As of now, it’s unclear how much time he’ll miss.
Gordon, 30, is batting .304/.330/.386 through 45 games this season and leads the AL with 16 steals. With Cano suspended, Gordon recently made the switch back to second base from center field. Now the Mariners have two spots to fill.
The Mariners called up first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach to take Gordon’s spot on the active roster. The 25-year-old has appeared in 19 games with the big club this year while batting .204/.317/.352 with two homers in 63 plate appearances.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.