Mariners outfielder Ben Gamel has been diagnosed with a strained right oblique muscle and is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to six weeks, the team told reporters on Monday (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Greg Johns). That almost certainly means he’ll open the season on the disabled list, and if the recovery takes closer to the six-week end of the spectrum, he could miss the first two to three weeks of the season.
Gamel, 25, is in line for regular at-bats with the 2018 Mariners after posting a solid .275/.322/.413 slash with 11 homers, 27 doubles and five triples through 550 plate appearances last year in his first full big league season. Gamel turned in an exceptional first half in 2017, slashing .323/.379/.449 before cratering with a .227/.262/.376 slash following the All-Star break. He joins first baseman Ryon Healy on the list of notable Mariners injuries in Spring Training, though Healy, unlike Gamel, could potentially be ready for Opening Day.
Seattle is thin on outfield depth on the 40-man roster at the moment — particularly with Guillermo Heredia still on the mend from October shoulder surgery. Heredia recently made his spring debut and has had a couple of at-bats, but he’s more of a depth piece and fourth outfielder than an everyday option (though he could handle left field on a short-term basis with Gamel out). However, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times points out (on Twitter), Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger is dealing with tendinitis in his hand and hasn’t taken batting practice in nearly a week. The Mariners have veteran Kirk Nieuwenhuis in camp on a minor league deal, but it seems fair to suggest that they could stand to bring in some additional outfield help.
The Mariners were linked to Jon Jay earlier in the offseason, and he remains unsigned, as does former Rockies star Carlos Gonzalez. (Additional unsigned options can be seen in MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker.) Adding a bat like CarGo would be a rather extreme reaction to a short-term absence for Gamel and a seemingly more minor injury for Haniger, but Jay makes some sense for the Seattle roster even with a healthy Gamel and Haniger on the roster. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto, of course, is never one to shy away from making plays on the waiver wire, and there should be a fair number of names becoming available via that avenue in the coming weeks.