18/05/2024

Amid more early-season struggles, Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez gets rare day off

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Amid more early-season struggles, Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez gets rare day off

The Mariners' star center fielder, hitting .186 with a .441 OPS through 15 games, gets his first day off to "just let him unplug a little bit," manager Scott Servais...

The Mariners' star center fielder, hitting .186 with a .441 OPS through 15 games, gets his first day off to "just let him unplug a little bit," manager Scott Servais...

There is nothing physically wrong with Julio Rodriguez. Mariners manager Scott Servais wanted to make that clear before Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago Cubs.

Rodriguez, the Mariners’ star center fielder, had his first day off Sunday after playing in the first 15 games of the season.

“Just let him unplug a little bit,” Servais said. “I think [a day off is] really important not just from a physical side but from a mental side. Sometimes [when] you sit back, you watch a game, it looks a whole lot easier … than it actually is. So that’s the reason behind it. There’s nothing physically wrong with him.”

The 23-year-old Rodriguez is off to another scuffling start, posting a .186/.238/.203 slash line (.441 OPS) in his first 63 plate appearances of the season.

He has struck out in 33.3% of his plate appearances with only one extra-base hit, and his wRC+ of 35 (the average is 100) ranks as the 10th-worst among qualified MLB hitters.

His early-season struggles are not new. Since his debut in 2022, he has a career batting average of .216 and an OPS of .612 in March/April, by far the worst month(s) of his career.

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He’s expected to be back in the lineup when the Mariners host the Cincinnati Reds to open a three-game series Monday night.

“He’s a big part of our team. He’s huge,” Servais said. “To get him going, sometimes a day off will help that.”

Canzone exits with shoulder sprain

The Mariners’ Dominic Canzone made a sensational play in left field in the top of the second inning, reaching out with his glove to make the catch just before he crashed head-first into the wall, robbing the Cubs’ Mike Tauchman of an extra-base hit.

From his seat on the warning track, Canzone managed to make a heads-up throw back to the infield — a one-hopper to second base that kept the Cubs’ Michael Busch from advancing past first base.

Canzone, however, remained down on the warning track, and after being checked out by Servais and team trainer Kyle Torgerson, Canzone ended up leaving the game with apparent shoulder discomfort. Dylan Moore replaced Canzone in left field.

The club later announced Canzone sustained an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, and Servais intimated after the game that Canzone would likely need a stint on the injured list. Roster moves are expected on Monday.

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Rare start for Raley

Luke Raley took Rodriguez’s place in his first start as Seattle’s center fielder Sunday, and his first start period in a week.

“I’ve had a couple of meetings with Luke,” Servais said. “I think it’s really easy to be a forgotten man. And right now with the way things have gone — you know, Mitch Haniger is off to a great start; Dominic Canzone has really picked it up here in the last four or five games that he’s been in there — so it’s been harder to get [Raley] in there. And we faced three consecutive left-handed starters.

“So you put all those things together and you look up and he hasn’t started a game in a while.”

Raley, 29, had three hits in his first 20 plate appearances with the Mariners, who acquired the left-handed-hitting outfielder from the Rays in a trade for Jose Caballero in the offseason.

“He’s working his tail off,” Servais said. “I like how he’s wired and the fact that he’s got a really good attitude. He’s a serious blue-collar player. He’s in the cage [as] the first one here. He’s out taking the extra BP. He works at first base. He’s ready to go and he understands the length of a major-league season. He’s going to get plenty of opportunities.”

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