Rookie standout and 21-year-old phenom for the Mariners, Julio Rodrguez, left tonight’s game with lower back discomfort, continuing a saga that began earlier in the week. According to a report by Daniel Kramer, Rodrguez will get imaging of his lower back tomorrow in Kansas City after putting off getting it done when he first felt discomfort over the weekend in Anaheim. After the game, Mariners manager Scott Servais said he was “concerned” about Rodrguez’s back pain.
To begin his career, Rodriguez has been outstanding, slashing.279/.341/.499 with an OPS of.840 and a WRC+ of143, both of which rank second among eligible CF and just behind MVP candidate Aaron Judge. His impressive play has made him a favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year title and earn him a spot in the All-Star Game.
The Mariners are currently in the hunt for a wildcard spot, two games behind Toronto for the first wildcard spot and tied with Tampa Bay for the second wildcard spot, so an extended absence would be tough to weather. They recently signed a massive extension with Rodrguez that can run through the 2039 season. Eugenio Suárez of the Mariners just went on the 10-day injured list after breaking the tip of his right index finger.
No. 1 prospect Bobby Witt Jr. (KC), No. 3 Julio Rodriguez (SEA), and No. 4 Spencer Torkelson (DET) all made the big league Opening Day roster.
(No. 2 Rutschman and No. 5 Green projected to make debuts later this year after sustaining injuries)
The future of baseball is here. pic.twitter.com/rrGFqWpaTo
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) April 4, 2022
Rodrguez’s consistent starting position has provided Seattle’s anemic offense with a much-needed offensive boost. With a batting average in the bottom third of the league and league-average on-base percentage, home run percentage, and slugging percentage, Seattle has an above-average slash line. Despite having a rough year, the Mariners would still qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today.
On Opening Day, April 8, 2022, against the Minnesota Twins, Rodriguez made his Major League Baseball debut as the starting center fielder.
Rodriguez got off after a slow start (1 for 21 with 12 Ks). In May and June of 2022, he was honored as the AL’s Rookie of the Month. He batted.280/.361/.542 with seven homers, 16 RBI, and five steals in June while playing in 29 games.
In July, the Mariners won 14 games in a row and suddenly found themselves in playoff contention, thanks in large part to Rodriguez’s stellar performance. On July 15 he put the game against the Texas Rangers out of reach with his first career grand slam.
He batted.267/.337/.547 with five homers, 18 RBI, and two steals in July while playing in 19 games. However, Jose Miranda, who had better numbers overall, was named rookie of the month for July, and not him.
Rodriguez became the sixth rookie in Mariner history to be named to the MLB All-Star Game squad in 2022. In the Home Run Derby, Rodriguez hit 81 home runs over the course of three rounds, good for second place overall and only behind the winner, Juan Soto.