Before tonight’s game, Mariner All-Stars Ty France and Julio Rodríguez were honored before a sellout crowd north of 45,000. Like they had been the entire winning streak, Julio and Ty were slotted 1-2 in the batting order. After the ceremony in which Mariner legends Bret Boone and Mike Cameron threw out first pitches to France and Rodríguez, though, something was quickly amiss.
Literally a minute before first pitch, it was announced over the PA system that Julio was a late scratch, - despite seemingly nothing wrong with him during the ceremony. Dylan Moore took his place in center field, while J.P. Crawford slotted into the leadoff spot.
Naturally, Marinerland freaked. Was he seriously hurt? Traded (no don’t be ridiculous)? Some other ominous third thing?
Around the midpoint of the game, it was finally revealed that Julio had been scratched due to left wrist soreness. Concerning and vague, no doubt, but definitely preferable to “oblique strain” or “pulled hamstring”. In the postgame, Scott Servais described Julio as “literally day-to-day”, noting that he had first aggravated the wrist on Sunday in Texas after he jammed it against Marcus Semien’s foot on a steal attempt, and his incredible showing in the Home Run Derby certainly didn’t give him a lot of time to rest it.
Servais also mentioned that he and the coaching staff had been informed of Rodríguez’s tender wrist, and while they - and Julio - initially thought he could play through it, they pulled the plug after seeing him in the cage about a half hour before game time. Watching him take on-field batting practice, it was clear something wasn’t quite right: he seemed to be taking half-effort swings, with few batted balls hit with much authority.
Although it was an undeniable disappointment to see Seattle’s budding superstar scratched at the last second before a sellout crowd, this was the smart thing to do. Plenty of baseball - including six more games against these Astros - is still on the docket, and Julio being as healthy as possible is critical to the Mariners’ playoff chances. No “pictures”, such as an X-ray or MRI, were taken, either, giving further reason for optimism.
With a day game tomorrow, it’s likely he’ll again be out of the lineup in favor of Moore or Sam Haggerty, but if his wrist responds well to the treatment he received tonight, it’s definitely not out of the question he returns to the lineup on Sunday. Like Scott said, the M’s are taking it one day at a time - as they should.