SEATTLE — Corner infielder Yandy Diaz will miss the rest of the regular season after further testing showed what was initially considered a bruise on his left foot was actually a hairline fracture.
The severity of the injury was discovered this week when Diaz felt an increase in pain while taking ground balls at the Trop and was sent for a CT scan. Diaz has been sidelined since fouling a ball off his left foot on July 22.
He won’t need surgery but will be shut down from all baseball activities for 6-8 weeks. That all but sidelines him through the regular season that ends Sept. 29, though he could return if the Rays advance in the playoffs.
“It stinks that he’s going to get shut down and miss all this time,’’ manager Kevin Cash said Friday.
The Rays think Diaz, 28, had the fracture all along, Cash said, but it took the more detailed exam to show what is a “very small, small hairline fracture” in the navicular bone. “The issue with the fracture is it’s in a spot that’s pretty delicate and you don’t want to make anything worse,’’ Cash said, “so do right by him going forward.’’
Diaz, acquired from Cleveland in a three-way December trade that cost the Rays Jake Bauers and $5 million, has been on the injured list three times. He’s hitting .270 with 14 homers, 38 RBIs and an .823 OPS while playing first and third.
Medical matters: B. Lowe, Alvarado, Snell, Wendle
Infielder Brandon Lowe, sidelined since early July after fouling a ball off his right leg, continues to make progress in workouts in the Trop, continuing to report he has had his best day yet.
But Cash said the athletic trainers “want to see the run, the gait, smooth out a little bit more” before clearing him for a rehab assignment. Lowe has been reluctant to put a timetable on his return but said he’d like to be ready when the Rays return home next Friday.
Reliever Jose Alvarado (oblique) made this third rehab outing Friday for Triple-A Durham and fourth overall, allowing two hits in a 21-pitch eighth inning-plus. There was a brief scare when Alvarado was hit on the backside by a liner, but he stayed in to finish that inning and start the ninth, when he gave up an 0-2 homer. Cash said the decision when to activate Alvarado will be “based on how he looks and how he feels, and also our needs at this level.’’
Starter Blake Snell (elbow surgery) accompanied the team with plans to start throwing Monday for the first time since July 29 surgery to remove six bone chips.
Infielder Joey Wendle (right wrist inflammation) is taking swings but still “has some time” until he’ll be ready, Cash said.
Having Jalen Beeks start Friday’s game was a strategy to get him to pitch deeper into the game, given the impact of injuries to their starters.
Part was based on hoping Beeks would pitch better in getting a start than he has in relief, and part on leading Cash to leave him in to get through five innings and 75-100 pitches.
Though Beeks got off to a decent start, his night didn’t go well as he was pulled in the fourth, after a single that allowed the Mariners to tie the score at two, having thrown 85 pitches.
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“Just given the injuries that have taken place we’ve got to bank a certain amount of pitches for some of these guys,’’ Cash said before the game. “We’re not going to be as aggressive as you would when someone is opening in front. More than anything we want to keep the bullpen in check and see if we can get Jalen on a pretty good run. … Somebody has got to pitch. We can’t just pull everybody at 30, 40, 45 pitches.’’
Similarly, Ryan Yarbrough will start Sunday.
The return of catcher Mike Zunino, who spent parts of six seasons with the Mariners, was a big deal, with more than a dozen Seattle media gathered at his locker.
Five other Rays also played previously in the Mariners organization: outfielder Guillermo Heredia and reliever Emilio Pagan in the majors, and first baseman Ji-Man Choi, reliever Andrew Kittredge and starter Ryan Yarbrough in the minors.
The others have all been to T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field) as big-leaguers, but it’s the first visit for Kittredge, who grew up a Mariners fan in Spokane, Wash., and will have 20-25 friends and relatives on hand each day, including his dad, Roger, who has never seen him pitch in the majors.
Despite all the trades the teams have made, the Mariners have only one ex-Ray on their active roster, outfielder Mallex Smith, who has had an up-and-down first season, including a May demotion to Triple A.
Smith, hitting .232 with 31 steals and a .644 OPS, said it was good to renew acquaintances, but he had no special motivation against his ex-mates: “Just another day at the office.’’
Former Rays player and longtime minor-league manager Jared Sandberg is on the Mariners coaching staff as field coordinator, and said he is having a great time being in the majors and living at home. "Quality of life is off the charts,'' he said.
• Outfielder Austin Meadows had a brush-with-greatness moment while eating dinner Thursday at The Butcher’s Table with Hall of Famer and former Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr. at the next table. “I was star-struck,'' Meadows said. "Didn’t know what to do.” Meadows introduced himself, Griffey knew who he was, and they talked … fishing.
• The Mariners are celebrating the Hall of Fame induction of Edgar Martinez all weekend with giveaways and a ceremony before Saturday’s game.
• Only five Rays are on the active roster from the last time the teams played, June 10, 2018: Diego Castillo, Matt Duffy, Austin Pruitt, Chaz Roe and Ryan Yarbrough.