Left-handed pitcher Roenis Elías will have surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and is out for the season.
According to the Seattle Times, which identified the surgery, the Mariners also offered the pitcher a two-year Minor League deal that would allow him to stay in the organization while he recovers from the procedure and tries to come back in 2022. For now, Elías can’t go on the injured list or accrue service time because he’s not on the 40-man roster, as he is in camp on a Minor League deal.
“We knew it was pretty serious after he came out of the game, and then with the initial findings on the MRI,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s had multiple doctors look at it, and everybody agrees that [surgery] is probably the only route for him to go at this point.”
The 32-year-old was removed from the fourth inning on Thursday against the Dodgers after facing only one hitter because of arm discomfort. Elías, who had allowed only one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings this spring, was vying for one of the open spots in the eight-man bullpen.
“I feel bad for him. He was off to a great start,” Servais said. “I was really excited to have him back. We know what he can do and how he can add to your bullpen. That one hurts. I know he’s upset about it, but hopefully things will work out.”
The veteran’s absence could open the door for other relievers who’ve been on fringe consideration to break camp, such as Rule 5 Draft pick Will Vest, Taylor Guerrieri, Drew Steckenrider, Joey Gerber and Wyatt Mills.
“We are really disappointed to see him go down, and I know he is, as well,” Servais said of Elías. “But it creates opportunity for some other guys and hopefully, somebody takes it and runs with it. His skill set is very unique coming out of the bullpen, and it was a nice weapon to have. Unfortunately, we’re not going to have him.”
Kelenic on tap
Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic, who sustained a Grade 2 adductor strain in his left knee on March 6, is expected to return to Cactus League play on Wednesday night against the Angels.
“I know he’s super anxious,” Servais said. “I’m glad he’s moving around as well as he is, and we are going to look at him in live BP [Tuesday].”
MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 overall prospect was injured coming out of the batter’s box in his first plate appearance against the White Sox. He is competing with Braden Bishop, Jake Fraley, José Marmolejos and Taylor Trammell for the job in left field.
“Our guys are grinding right now and certainly the guys that are fighting for spots are getting after it every day and they’re getting a lot of opportunity,” Servais said. “You’re going see all these guys play a lot here down the stretch.”
Sheffield shines, bats bash
Justus Sheffield hit his spots with his changeup and his slider. The Mariners’ offense found the holes.
The result was a dominant 13-0 victory against the Royals at Surprise Stadium on Tuesday night.
Justice allowed only two hits and struck out six in four scoreless innings. He also walked one batter in the 63-pitch outing. The Mariners’ offense tallied 15 hits and three home runs, including a mammoth home run to deep right center by Julio Rodríguez. Rodríguez also hit a double in the ninth inning and continues to impress.
“I can’t believe he hit the ball as hard as he did tonight,” Servais said. “I’ve been around this game a long time to see a young guy turn a 97-98 mph fastball and drive it out of the park like that, you don’t see that very often. He’s a real special talent and a real fun personality to be every day.”
It was quite a turnaround for Sheffield, who allowed six runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Rangers in his previous outing. He walked three and gave up two home runs in that one.
“I feel like, in that last one, I really didn’t bring enough energy,” Sheffield said. “Tonight, I wanted to treat it more like a real start in a real game. … I feel pretty good right now where I’m at. But there’s still work to be done always. Even during the season, there’s still work to be done. I just feel like I’m in a good spot.”
The Mariners scored three runs in the first two innings and three more runs in the third for a 6-0 lead. Ty France and Tom Murphy each hit two-run home runs as part of a five-run fourth inning to push the Mariners’ lead to 11-0. Rodríguez’s first home run of the spring made it 12-0 in the fifth.
Roster moves announced
The Mariners announced a series of roster moves at Major League camp on Tuesday.
• Right-handed pitcher Juan Then was optioned to Class A Everett.
• Right-handed pitcher Moises Gomez and left-handed pitcher Ian McKinney were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Following those moves, the Mariners have 60 players in their Major League camp.