The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels enter Saturday’s doubleheader with both teams a bit shaken by events that transpired on Friday.
Veteran outfielder Justin Upton, released by the Angels on April 8, made his Mariners debut Friday in the second game of their five-game series in Seattle and was beaned with a 91 mph fastball from Michael Lorenzen in the fifth inning.
Upton remained face down in the batter’s box for a couple of minutes before being helped up. He walked off the field on his own and left the game.
“He was conscious and talking the whole time,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I greeted him after we came in after the game, and I’ll text and check in with him (Saturday) morning.”
Servais said he hoped Upton would be available for Saturday’s doubleheader.
“Right now, we’ll see if maybe he can be our DH,” Servais said. “Wait and see how it works out.”
Upton, the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, spent the previous four-plus seasons with the Angels. He didn’t bat above .215 in the past three.
He trained on his own for six weeks before the Mariners called. He batted .200 with two home runs and six RBIs in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma before being recalled.
Upton, 34, has hit .262 over 15 major-league seasons, with 324 home runs and 1,000 RBIs, and the Mariners signed him with hopes he still had some magic in the bat and could spark an offense that produced two or fewer runs in four of its previous five games, being blanked twice, before breaking out in an 8-1 victory Friday.
Lorenzen took the loss for the Angels, and after the game, he spoke about the pitch that hit Upton in the head. He put the blame on Major League Baseball and its changed baseball.
“I don’t know what Major League Baseball is playing with these baseballs, but that fully slipped out of my hand,” Lorenzen told The Orange County Register. “It’s just crazy, man. As a kid you think Major League Baseball is the greatest thing ever, and you get here and you realize, what are they doing? All of a sudden they’re going to change the baseballs. … “These baseballs are slick. They did get someone hurt. So that’s on Major League Baseball for sure.”
The Angels had their own injury news on Friday, announcing third baseman Anthony Rendon will undergo season-ending surgery on his right wrist next week.
“We’ve got a few different options (at third base),” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “We certainly have guys who can go over there and play well defensively. But when you take Anthony Rendon out of the lineup, the way he works pitchers and takes at-bats, just that name in the lineup, it’s different. I’m not going to lie to you. But with where he’s at, he just couldn’t go, so we’ll piece it together every day.”
Rendon had been dealing with the injury since early last month and was on the injured list from May 17-June 10 with right-wrist inflammation.
“We knew (surgery) was always an option, but we were trying to figure out how to get through each day, but it got to the point where it didn’t get better,” Rendon said.
Saturday, the Angels are scheduled to start left-handers Patrick Sandoval (3-2, 2.83 ERA) and Jose Suarez (0-2, 5.96). Sandoval is 0-3 with a 3.38 ERA in four career starts against Seattle; Suarez is 3-1, 4.18 in seven appearances, including six starts.
Right-hander Chris Flexen (2-8, 4.30) is set to start the opener for the Mariners, who haven’t announced a pitcher for Game 2. Flexen is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.
–Field Level Media