The Mariners are likely to reinstate Eugenio Suárez from the injured list tomorrow, president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times and Curtis Crabtree of Fox 13). He’ll be deployed as a designated hitter initially, as the fracture in his right index finger is still inhibiting him defensively.
In even better news for the M’s, Dipoto said star center fielder Julio Rodríguez “looks great” as he rehabs from the lower back strain that sent him to the injured list last week. Dipoto indicated the club anticipates he’ll be ready for reinstatement when first eligible next Monday.
Getting both players back after brief absences is critical for a Mariners team trying to secure its first playoff berth in over two decades. The M’s enter play Monday with an 83-69 record that has them in possession of the American League’s final Wild Card spot. They’re four games clear of the Orioles, and they’re within 2 1/2 games of both the Blue Jays and Rays as they jockey for Wild Card position.
Assuming the Mariners hold onto a playoff spot in some capacity, they look likely to enter the postseason with both Suárez and Rodríguez on the roster. That duo has arguably been Seattle’s top two position players this year. Rodríguez has emerged as the face of the franchise with an incredible rookie season, hitting .280/.342/.502 with 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases across 549 plate appearances. Suárez, meanwhile, leads the team with 31 homers and has a .235/.335/.470 line. It has been a surprising bounceback after a .198/.286/.428 showing his final year with the Reds.
The Mariners have turned to Ty France and Abraham Toro at third base in Suárez’s absence. They’ll presumably continue to split the hot corner until he’s ready to return to action defensively, while Jesse Winker will probably get more action in left field after serving as the DH of late. That’d come at the expense of playing time for Sam Haggerty and Taylor Trammell. Center field, meanwhile, has been the purview of Jarred Kelenic since Rodríguez went down.