Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik called it “a perfect storm in a negative way."
Six players injured, including three pitchers and three starting outfielders. Young hitters getting off to slow starts, then pressing to end their slumps.
The result is that the Mariners, after going 22-11 in spring training, are one of baseball’s biggest disappointments in April.
But Zduriencik isn’t blaming his manager, Eric Wedge, for the team’s 8-15 start and two series losses to the Astros, a team expected to be one of the worst in baseball.
“Eric’s great. Eric has worked his rear end off, done everything he could,” Zduriencik said Thursday of Wedge, who is in the final year of his contract. “But a club doesn’t swing the bat early, what are you going to do?
“Look around baseball. Josh Hamilton started off slow. You’re going to blame someone over there for Josh Hamilton’s slow start? B.J. Upton, Asdrubal Cabrera you can go through a bunch of players. Unfortunately for our scenario, they all did it at once. You put the injuries on top of this thing, it really makes it a challenge.”
The Mariners, after acquiring first baseman Kendrys Morales and outfielders Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez last offseason, are last in the American League in runs per game as they begin a seven-game homestand against the Angels and Orioles on Thursday night.
Morse, after a hot start, has cooled off while playing with a broken right pinkie. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring on Wednesday, and outfielder Michael Saunders has been out since April 10 with a sprained right shoulder. Saunders could return on Monday, Zduriencik said.
In addition, the Mariners are without two right-handed relievers, Josh Kinney (stress reaction, left shoulder) and Stephen Pryor (torn right lat muscle). Righty Erasmo Ramirez, a projected starter, began the season on the minor-league DL with a triceps injury, and has yet to pitch at Triple A.
“Everybody goes through this, but we’re in a position as a club, coming out of spring training, you needed all of the pieces to fall together,” Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik, though, said he saw signs of encouragement from several of his young hitters as the Mariners lost two of three in Houston earlier this week.
Second baseman Dustin Ackley had two three-hit games, and now has nine hits in his last 19 at-bats. First baseman Justin Smoak went 5-for-10 with a home, and catcher Jesus Montero also hit a long home run.