KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mariners star rookie Julio Rodriguez has been placed on the 10-day injured list with lower back discomfort, the club announced just before the start of Friday’s game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Rodriguez traveled with the team from Oakland to Kansas City and had an MRI on his back Friday.
He would be eligible to return for the Mariners’ final regular-season series against Detroit on Oct. 3.
Manager Scott Servais did not offer details on the nature of the injury, beyond noting that Rodriguez was feeling discomfort on the right side of his back, just above the glute muscle.
“He’s still a little bit sore today,” Servais said Friday afternoon.
Rodriguez, the front runner for American League Rookie of the Year, missed three games earlier in this road trip against the Angels when his back discomfort first flared up last weekend.
He returned to the lineup in Oakland on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, he led off the game with a double and then scored on a Mitch Haniger single.
But after taking his position in center field to start the bottom of the first, Rodriguez had to exit the game when the back flared up again.
The Mariners (82-67) entered Friday holding down the final playoff spot in the American League wild card chase, four games ahead of Baltimore (82-67) with 13 games remaining. They open their last road series Friday night in Kansas City.
Jarred Kelenic is in the lineup as the starting center fielder Friday against the Royals. Kelenic, in his first game since being recalled from Class AAA Tacoma, took over in center field for Rodriguez on Thursday and had a home run and a key RBI double.
Kelenic will be the regular center fielder for however long Rodriguez is out.
“Jarred got off to a great start yesterday. He had a really good game,” Servais said. “That’s what I was hoping for — get some confidence going and see if he can take it and run with it. He’s going to play. … I was anticipating his reps would come in the corner (outfield spots), but with Julio out now he’ll be playing in center field. And we’re going to let him run with it.”
Outfielder Taylor Trammell was recalled from Tacoma on Friday, two days after being sent down.
Suarez making progress
There was one promising injury update from the Mariners on Friday.
A week after fracturing the tip of his right index finger, Eugenio Suarez fielded ground balls at third base and took part in a round of batting practice at Kauffman Stadium.
Suarez isn’t making any throws yet, but the Mariners are hopeful he will be able to return from the IL when he’s eligible on Tuesday, the first day of their final homestand of the season.
“He feels really good,” Servais said.