Today the Mariners announced Nelson Cruz will go to the 10-day DL with a sprained ankle, retroactive to 4/1. It’s a not-unexpected move after Scott Servais basically said as much yesterday, without actually saying it, because he is Midwest Dad. With two games in a National League park, Cruz figured to not be getting much playing time anyway, plus there are two off-days in the stretch, meaning the Mariners will really only miss Cruz for the Twins series and part of the Royals series. It’s a blow to not have him in the lineup against the likely-contending Twins, but his absence should be sensed less acutely against the soft-rebuild Royals. Even though Cruz would be eligible to return during the Royals series, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the club take it easy with him and give him a couple extra off-days, including the one on the 12th before they begin their next homestand.
While Cruz’s injury—sustained tripping down some stairs in the dugout after his home run on Saturday—might make your fingers itch to grab your trident cap and the nearest lighter, Shannon Drayer pointed out on 710 yesterday that Cruz’s strained right quad, injured back on March 13th, was never 100% coming out of camp. The joking plan was for Nelson to hit it over the fence to he didn’t have to test the quad, which was working out fine until those pesky steps cropped up. What seems like a freakish injury actually makes a little more sense considering Nelson’s right leg was already weakened by the quad injury; compensating for loss of balance without a fully-healthy quad muscle could have led to stress on the ankle. The trick now is to make sure the ankle gets a full chance to recover, as the ankle is an even more key piece to the kinetic chain. Sending Cruz to the DL, as painful as it might be in the short term, is the right choice for his long-term productivity.
Replacing Neli will be Taylor Motter, who per his Instagram never left Seattle to begin with (has brief, horrifying vision of Motter shoving Cruz down the stairs Showgirls-style). Even considering the downgrade of his bat, Motter’s defensive versatility will serve the club well in San Francisco, and also provide opportunities to rest starters on the remainder of the road trip. After losing out on the utility job and spending most of his camp on the backfields with the other denizens of Tacoma, Motter will be playing with something to prove. Perhaps that will spark his bat to improve on the 57 wRC+ he posted last year, although he did have a very good April. Make us use the Motter Pop graphics Tee made, Taylor. Please.