Mariners place Zunino on disabled list with oblique injury

SEATTLE — That was apparently worse than originally thought.

The Mariners announced Friday they have placed catcher Mike Zunino on the 10-day disabled list with a strained oblique, with the move retroactive to March 27. He had felt stiffness in his side in one of his final at-bats during the Mariners’ batting practice at Safeco Field on Wednesday, their first day back in Seattle from spring training.

Strained oblique is not a good sign. Outfielder Ben Gamel has been out since March 5 with an oblique strain, and he was expected to miss four to six weeks, while Mitch Haniger left a late-April game with the same injury last season and didn’t return until June 11.

But oblique injuries typically come with all sorts of timetables, and the Mariners didn’t say how long Zunino was expected to miss.

“It just felt tight and stiff,” Zunino said after Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Indians. “Obviously as a baseball player you are aware of anything in the abdominal region, so I just wanted to shut it down and not let anything flare up.”

He’ll just be shutting it down for longer than first expected.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said Zunino would have been available in Thursday’s game to catch in an “emergency situation.”

In his place they’ve recalled David Freitas from Triple-A Tacoma. Mike Marjama got his first Opening Day start on Thursday when Zunino was a late scratch from the lineup.

Freitas was 5-for-21 (.238) in 11 Cactus League games with the Mariners this spring. He was acquired in a waiver claim from the Braves in October after making his major league debut with Atlanta last season.

Zunino had a big spring — hitting .395 (17-for-43) in 17 Cactus League games. This came after Zunino hit .251 last season with the Mariners, with 25 home runs and 64 RBI — with him hitting .281 with 24 home runs in 95 games after his return from a stay in Triple-A Tacoma after his poor start to the big-league season.

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