Camp is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. The 2020 season is one week away from its theoretical restart, and Seattle’s prospect-heavy intrasquads have been an exciting opportunity to see the Mariners future take on its present. Unfortunately, yesterday a great deal of that enthusiasm was put on hold, as OF Julio Rodriguez suffered a hairline fracture in his left wrist Wednesday afternoon, following the three inning intrasquad. The injury occurred in defensive drills, when Rodriguez dove for a low line drive, according to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
The timing for an injury is never good, but it’s particularly disheartening for Rodriguez, who got a late start to the summer and had his best plate appearances of the live BP and intrasquads yesterday. Rodriguez had a halting, unlucky start to his 2019 season as well, as he took a wild fastball to the left hand early in his time with the West Virginia Power. That injury held him out for nearly two months, and it’s likely a wrist fracture would have a similar time frame. Given that the season is scarcely longer than two months, this injury likely scuttles Rodriguez’s chances of being a playing participant in the taxi squad games at Cheney Stadium once the season is underway. Further tests could reveal a more optimistic projection, but it’s doubtful the Mariners push him to return for pure practice reps.
Notably, because Rodriguez is in the 60-man player pool but not the 40-man roster, a normal injury does not constitute cause to remove him from the 60-player pool. This matters, because as might reasonably be speculated, the club could theoretically add another player or prospect to their pool and put Rodriguez on some form of injured list. MLB’s rules - to ensure teams don’t manipulate their player pool and also to minimize movement of personnel and COVID-19 exposure - require any non-40 man player to be fully released if they are to be moved out of the 60-man player pool. The only exceptions are suspensions, retirements, military participation, or placement on the special COVID-19 related injury list. This specific scenario is addressed on MLB’s FAQ, in fact:
Non-40-man-roster players may be removed by trade, release, placement on the COVID-19 related injured list, or placement on the suspended list (by the club), military, voluntarily retired, restricted, disqualified or ineligible lists. Any injured non-40-man-roster players will continue to count against the team’s Player Pool unless they are removed through one of the aforementioned transactions.
So, the next few weeks likely hold a lot of frustration for Rodriguez, but he should at least continue to get to spend time with the rest of the players in Seattle’s camps. Get well soon, Julio.