The Mariners went down a starter for the opener when C Mike Zunino felt soreness in his right side after Wednesday’s workout. Rookie Mike Marjama was to start.
It’s probably wise to not make a big deal out of this, but since Mariners fans have a well-earned twitch when in comes to player injuries, feel free to at least cock an eyebrow: Catcher Mike Zunino was pulled from the starting lineup in the season opener Thursday at Safeco with soreness in his right side.
A club spokesman said three hours before game-time that Zunino injured himself on his next-to-last swing during batting practice Wednesday at a stadium workout. It was not considered serious, but since the Mariners have an off-day Friday, the decision was made to rest him for the opener.
Mike Marjama, a 28-year-old rookie who hit .300 in spring training with two home runs to win the backup job, was inserted into the lineup hitting eighth. After six minor league seasons, he made his major league debut last season with the Mariners, playing in five September games and starting two after being acquired from Tampa Bay.
But Thursday was the first time for him to catch Mariners starter Felix Hernandez.
The Mariners were planning to be cautious with another wounded player, DH Nelson Cruz, who has been nursing a strain in his right quadriceps.
“I don’t know if he’s quite at 100 percent yet,” manager Scott Servais told reporters before the game. “That’s one of the things we’ll look at is maybe making a substitution late with a pinch runner.
“Once the adrenaline gets going it kind of takes over. But on the bases, you can control it — when to step on the gas and when to lay off. Cruz is a pro. We trust him. He’ll be in the lineup and hopefully he hits a few over the fence and can jog around.”