It could’ve been any number of players headed to the DL today after last night’s near-Pyrrhic 3-2 victory over the Oakland A’s. Mitch Haniger took an errant Trevor Cahill fastball off the forearm. Jean Segura slid through an obstructive Jonathan Lucroy at home plate to score the winning run. Nelson Cruz’s arm was tingling and purple, beyond his prior few lower body limitations. Ben Gamel slipped and fell flat on his back in a move that was mercifully harmless in last night’s final score but assuredly left Gams with a bruised ego. For today, however, RHP Dan Altavilla will return to Tacoma as Seattle attempts to weather this road trip without another DL stint.
Without Altavilla, Seattle’s bullpen is a shade thin. Marco Gonzales starts tonight, with Félix Hernández slated for Thursday. Hopefully the starters can work their ways through a still-dangerous Oakland lineup with the Seattle bench looking like an infirmary.
On the other end is a relative miracle. John Andreoli is half a month shy of his 28th birthday, nearly a decade older than fellow rookie Juan Soto who debuted for the Nationals this past weekend. Signed as a minor league free agent this winter after aging out of the Chicago Cubs system, Andreoli showed signs of an improved swing that allowed him at last to unlock power to go with his well above-average speed. Our own Ben Thoen spoke with Andreoli this spring and profiled him in great detail. A brief stretch of time in Tacoma has not outdated that article and I encourage you all to read it. If you’d like to see some
The crux of it is this: Andreoli was well-regarded in the Cubs system, but perpetually blocked by superior players at the MLB level. He can play all three outfield spots capably, brings a bit of pop along with his speed, but may strike out a good deal in his first ever crack at MLB pitching. Andreoli’s balanced profile has made him a KATOH darling, which fits the mold of “tweener” players Jerry Dipoto has repeatedly sought in Seattle.
With Mitch Haniger potentially in need of a day or two off following his HBP, Andreoli may find himself hurled straight into the starting lineup. Once Haniger returns, the fact that Andreoli was called up instead of a similarly profiled player like Ian Miller or Kirk Nieuwenhuis likely speaks more to the desire for a right-handed option to support Ben Gamel more than a lefty hitter to spell Guillermo Heredia.
Andreoli’s addition to the 40-man officially puts Seattle at 40, although the Mariners can now clear a spot by shifting David Phelps to the 60-day DL. Congratulations to John on finally, after over three consecutive years in AAA, getting his MLB call-up. Good luck, and maybe lean away from those fastballs.