The Seattle Mariners hadn’t set a starting pitcher for Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Texas Rangers before they announced center fielder Dee Gordon would be returning to the infield.
With All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano suspended 80 games Tuesday by Major League Baseball for a failed offseason drug test, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais sat down with Gordon and decided the best move for the team was to move the former Gold Glove winner back to second.
“I’ve played the position, but considering the circumstances, it’s definitely not how you want it to happen, especially to a great guy like Robbie,” Gordon said. “I’m just going to try to help us for this season and see what we can do to try to get to the postseason.”
Gordon, the National League’s Gold Glove winner at second base while with the Miami Marlins in 2015, had never played the outfield before being acquired by the Mariners in an offseason trade.
Gordon took grounders at second prior to Tuesday’s series opener at Safeco Field, but the Mariners said they will give him a few days to get comfortable there.
“Like I said when I first got here, I’m just here to help us win ballgames, no matter what I’ve got to do,” Gordon said. “This is just part of it, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Servais said Gordon will work with infield coach Manny Acta for the next few days.
“It’s pretty easy with Dee,” Servais said. “He wants to do whatever is going to help the team win, and certainly he’s very talented, he’s won a Gold Glove at second base. The thing that stood out for Dee, he’s a tremendous athlete and really good teammate. He wants to do what’s going to help us win.”
Cano went on the disabled list with a fractured right hand after getting hit by a pitch Sunday in Detroit, and is expected to undergo surgery Wednesday in Philadelphia.
Dipoto indicated the Mariners likely would have left Gordon in the outfield if Cano’s absence had been limited to a stint on the disabled list. But the suspension will keep him out until mid-August.
“The one thing we said when we acquired Dee, we didn’t want to jerk him back and forth,” Dipoto said. “We don’t want to move him around haphazardly. So giving him the opportunity to move in for a time, and then move back when that becomes a reality, is something we’re committed to, if in fact he moves there full time.”
Gordon said he’ll likely feel “less edge” when he’s back at second, given he’s been an infielder his entire career before this season.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you that some days, when it didn’t go too well in center, that I didn’t wish I was back at second. But this was the circumstance we have, and we just have to continue to move forward,” Gordon said.
The Rangers also lost a key player Tuesday as third baseman Adrian Beltre went on the disabled list for the second time this season with a strained left hamstring. Beltre underwent an MRI that showed a Grade 1 strain, which is considered mild. He’s expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
“Obviously, it’s an injury I have been dealing with. Yes, it has been more prickly. Give myself enough time to get back and be healthy,” Beltre, 39, said. “I don’t think about (the future). It’s something I have no power over. I’m on the disabled list. I can’t do nothing about anything.”
The Mariners will oppose a longtime nemesis in the series finale in right-hander Bartolo Colon (1-1, 3.32 ERA). He’s 20-12 with a 3.89 in 38 career starts against the Mariners and is 13-1 with a 2.12 ERA at Safeco Field, the highest winning percentage for a pitcher with at least 10 starts in the stadium’s history.
Colon is tentatively scheduled to face right-hander Christian Bergman, who will be called up from Triple-A Tacoma to make his 2018 debut. Bergman (4-5, 5.00 ERA last season) is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against the Rangers.