Olivo’s injury casts pall over Mariners victory

OlivoMiguelPain.jpgMariners catcher Miguel Olivo clutches his leg in pain after falling to the ground while scoring on a sacrifice fly during Saturday’s Cactus League game. Below, Olivo sits in frustration while waiting for a cart to take him to the clubhouse. (Photos by Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

It’s always dangerous to speculate much on injuries before the official reports are in, but without question the Mariners are concerned about the status of Miguel Olivo after the veteran catcher grabbed his leg and fell face first onto home plate while scoring on a sacrifice fly in Saturday’s 7-2 victory over the Indians at Peoria Stadium.

It was a bizarre sight — so bizarre that many in the crowd initially began laughing, thinking Olivo had taken a pratfall until he rolled over and tried to sit up in obvious pain.

OlivoMiguelHurt.jpgThere was no play at the plate on the deep fly ball by second baseman Sean Kazmar. Olivo was simply running home to score an easy run when his leg gave way.

Eventually Olivo was helped off the field and carted to the clubhouse, where the medical staff said he had a strained left groin muscle that will be further evaluated with an MRI test on Monday.

Until then, nobody is going to know or say much. But judging by Olivo’s pain and the difficulty for any athlete — particulary a catcher who spends nine innings in a crouch — to recover from those types of muscle injuries, this one could be a serious setback.

The Mariners have 27 days until they open the regular season, so there is some time. But even in a best-case scenario, their starting catcher and a guy who has quickly established himself as a leader of the young pitching staff will now miss most or all of the remaining Spring Training.

And if his injury is longer than the four-week variety, the Mariners will face some tough choices as to how to fill his absence. Adam Moore, who had lost his starting role when Seattle signed Olivo to a two-year, $6.25 million deal in free agency, now needs to step back up and grab the reins.

Veteran Josh Bard, a non-roster invitee who was competing with Moore for the backup job, suddenly seems a cinch for a spot if Olivo is out for a significant period of time.

Chris Gimenez, another non-roster guy who can play multiple positions, could have increased value. The other catcher in camp is 20-year-old Steven Baron, who has shown well with the bat in his limited opportunities so far but remains more of a long-term prospect.

We’ll find out more on Monday after the MRI tests, but suffice to say that this is the first real bad news to hit Mariners camp. Olivo had been a breath of fresh air with his vocal presence and constant enthusiasm and support of his pitchers.

He’s also a guy whose durability was one of his selling points. It will be a shame if his return is cut short by a serious injury, but we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

2 Comments

Olivo is a tough cookie, and he’ll be back full force pretty soon. I keep saying he that when he came up in 2004 he reminded me of Roy Campanella. Same tough look and same “presence” behind the plate. Except for maybe Yogi Berra, that’s the way a catcher should look. And Olivo’s durability since the Ms gave up on him back then is proof of it. And how come nobody now talks about how fast Olivo is for a big guy? He can run. He’ll be back.

I have to agree with you Fred. Alot of people have been bagging a bit on Olivo reciently and I for one think its a little bit unfounded. Sometimes we forget that a catcher is crucial in keeping the Pitcher steady. If the Pitcher is the sail then the catcher is the keel, and Olivo is that for these pitchers this year. They all seem to be expressing there comfort with him behind the plate and I’ll take that. Many times too when trying to bring up somone as important as a catcher you want to have a mentor to help them when they get to the Bigs. We didn’t have that last year and for that too it is important to have someone like Olivo around for a while. Good luck to Olivo and may he heal quickly!

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