After an awkward stride while Jarred Kelenic was running to first base in Friday’s spring training scrimmage against the Chicago White Sox was revealed to be a Grade 2 adductor strain in his left knee.
While Jerry Dipoto did not provide a chronological prognostication, the typical timeline for recovery on this type of injury is three to six weeks. That would obviously impede the ability for Kelenic to force his way onto the Seattle Mariners opening day roster. The timeline for Kelenic’s big league debut was and is one of the most significant storylines heading into Seattle’s spring, with Jerry Dipoto continuing to assert their goal was to start Kelenic in AAA-Tacoma before calling him up. The increased scrutiny comes after then-Mariners President and CEO Kevin Mather admitted there was nothing Kelenic could have done to be called up in 2020 and would not be called up until the end of April or May in 2021.
Things were further complicated as MLB decided to delay by at least a month the start of the AAA season, intending to open the season with the “alternate site” model teams used for all of 2020. The delay and reduced travel comes with the goal of reducing COVID-19 transmission and exposure, while also allowing greater vaccination rates and, by extension, safer opportunities to host fans at games, in particular for minor league clubs who rely more on attendance than big league clubs for their bottom lines. Unfortunately, both Kelenic and the Mariners front office seem to agree that development is limited at the alternate site, especially for players whose top priority is getting competitive, high-level game reps. If Seattle is genuine in their commitment to putting Kelenic in Tacoma for at least 100 or so PAs, depending on the timeline of his healing, Kelenic might not make it to Seattle until June.
The injury, much like the oblique strain that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. suffered just weeks before Toronto intended to send him back to AAA to work on his defense, may have made much of the debate moot. Still, with Seattle not making a single addition to its position player group over the winter, and no eye-opening showings thus far from Jake Fraley or Braden Bishop, Kelenic is no doubt eager to get back healthy and continue making his case. Here’s hoping he can be full health and back out on the field as soon as possible.