OAKLAND, Calif. — After Julio Rodriguez started Thursday afternoon’s game with a double into left field corner and later hit on Mitch Haniger’s single to right field, Julio Rodriguez left the Mariners game at the end of the first inning with more low back discomfort he was holding removed him from games in the previous series in Anaheim.
“Worrying,” manager Scott Servais said. “It’s the same area in the lower back.”
Rodriguez is expected to travel to Kansas City with the team and then undergo a full exam of his back, including an X-ray and MRI.
Servais insisted Rodriguez didn’t injure his back while doubling, but he awkwardly ran out of the batter’s box onto the ball in left field corner. He also didn’t look like he was running at his normal intensity when he hit right field in second on Haniger’s singles.
“He felt great before the game,” said Servais. “He was outside running around. We see him leading the game with a double and scoring a goal shortly after. But when he ran out to take his position in the second inning, he just felt it kind of grab him. He said something to Haniger on the field. Hani watched him and said: ‘This guy is wrong.’ We went out and talked to Julio. We didn’t want to do anything stupid out there to make it worse.”
Rodriguez missed the final three games of the four-game series in Anaheim after feeling his back strain while batting in the cage before Saturday’s game. He was dropped from the line-up about 30 minutes before the game.
He returned to the lineup for the first two games of the Oakland series, collecting two hits in the second game.
After struggling to muster more than one run per game for much of the current road trip, Seattle hit three runs from A’s starter Adrian Martinez in the first inning, including Haniger’s RBI single, an RBI double from Cal Raleigh and Jesse Winker’s bases loaded Walk.
After the last out, Rodriguez jogged to his usual spot in midfield. After George Kirby gave up a brace against Tony Kemp and gave Vimael Machin a rare walk, Rodriguez signaled the dugout and athletic Taylor Bennett and Servais jogged to the outfield to check on him.
After a brief chat, Rodriguez walked them off the field and straight into the training room.
The Mariners will likely fly another outfielder, possibly Taylor Trammell, to Kansas City to at least be on the cab crew while they await the results of Rodriguez’s tests.
In the immediate interim, Jarred Kelenic, who had a solo homer and an RBI double in Thursday’s win, can play center along with Dylan Moore.
Kirby’s Rare Outing
Kirby has sometimes made it easy to perform at the MLB level as a rookie. With smooth delivery and impeccable command, the young right-hander has been one of the Mariners’ most consistent pitchers since his debut in mid-May.
But nothing was easy for Kirby on Thursday as he weathered the worst outing of his career, lasting just 2 1/3 innings and giving up five runs on seven hits with three walks and a strikeout. He had never rushed more than one batsman in a game this season.
“I just felt out of sync,” he said. “I was missing heaters up and down and my changes were running out. I didn’t feel much today. I tried to grind it out as best as I could.”
Servais wasn’t overly concerned about the outing.
“He just wasn’t sharp and the stuff was just fuzzy,” Servais said. “When he starts walking folks and he certainly got beaten today. I don’t think we’ve seen that at any point since he’s been with us in the big leagues this year. But it happens.”
Kirby has made 23 starts this season and has a 7-4 record with a 3.30 ERA. He’s pitched in 120 innings, batted 124 batters and made just 18 walks.
“I was really fine,” Kirby said. “It’s a hard feeling. But you know, my teammates picked me up today and they did a really good job.”