Mike Zunino expected to miss six weeks
Mike Zunino plans to treat his upcoming surgery for a broken hamate bone in his left hand as just the latest challenge to overcome in his fledgling big league career.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mike Zunino plans to treat his upcoming surgery for a broken hamate bone in his left hand as just the latest challenge to overcome in his fledgling big-league career.
Zunino is expected to miss about six weeks, though it’s possible he could be back sooner. The Mariners signed veteran catcher Humberto Quintero, 33, who had been designated for assignment by Philadelphia, to take Zunino’s place.
Quintero joined the team for Friday night’s game. Zunino is to undergo surgery next week.
“It’s frustrating but it’s another thing that you just have to learn to deal with as a player,” Zunino said.
Zunino had been bothered for some time by pain in his left wrist after taking foul balls off it. But he felt additional pain after swinging on a fly-ball out in Thursday night’s game, tried to catch an inning after that and could not continue.
An MRI exam early Friday determined that the swing had caused an injury to the hamate – a bone in the palm side of the hand near the thumb, which serves no real purpose – that was separate from Zunino’s wrist pain.
Mariners trainer Rick Griffin said Friday that recovery from hamate surgery typically takes four or five weeks. Ken Griffey Jr. had the surgery in 1996 and missed only 23 days, but that’s the exception.
“When they remove the bone and the sutures heal, then they can start to work to tolerance,” Griffin said. “It just kind of depends from there how things go.’’
Interim manager Robby Thompson said he’d lean heavily on catcher Henry Blanco, 41, for the time being. When Quintero arrives and acclimates, the team will start working him in more.
“Once we get him here, we’ll sit down as a group and figure that out,’’ Thompson said. “We’ll probably split time and do the matchup thing and go from there. Henry does know the pitchers now and he’s caught most of them, so the next guy we bring in here, we’ll pick our spots on how to break him in with our pitching staff.”
Zunino was hitting .242 with two home runs, 10 runs batted in and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .658 in 29 games since being called up from Class AAA. He said he’d continue his development as a player even while healing.
“There’s a lot of stuff I can still go and watch and try to be a good teammate with,’’ he said. “Sort of improve myself as a ballplayer from a mental standpoint.”
• When Nick Franklin hit his eighth home run of the season Thursday night, he became only the second American League second baseman in 75 seasons to reach that total in his first 50 games. Jason Kipnis of the Indians hit 10 homers in his first 50 games in a stretch that covered the 2011 and 2012 seasons, while Joe Gordon of the Yankees clubbed 11 in 1938.
• Saturday’s game is the only one all season for the Mariners that won’t be televised. The Mariners moved the game time up to 1:10 p.m. to accommodate the Seafair Torchlight Parade through downtown. Since the start time is in the FOX national television window, neither the Mariners nor the Twins will be broadcasting the game.