2020 was supposed to be Shed Long Jr’s year. The youngster was set to come in as the Mariners everyday second baseman. It wasn’t just a stopgap either, as he was supposed to be a long-term answer as compared to a fill-in.
It didn’t go great, as he hit just .171 during the 2020 season for the Mariners. People were wondering if he was healthy, and it came as no surprise when we heard that he was going to miss time with a shin injury.
What no one around the Mariners expected was the length of the injury to Shed Long Jr.
A stress fracture in your shin is not a simple injury by any means. Being placed on the injured list, and effectively ending your season, should’ve left plenty of time for him to come back and be fully prepared for Spring Training heading into 2021.
Instead, we received the news at the start of camp that he wasn’t ready. In fact, he wasn’t going to be playing at all. The team wanted him to get back to full health before putting him out there again, which meant he was going to miss that much more time, and important developmental time at that.
It looks like keeping him out until he was completely healthy was a great call by the team. We have seen it happen with a couple of other players recently, most notably Dylan Moore and Ty France. They weren’t playing great as they tried to play through injuries, so the team put them on IL, let them get healthy, and they are back with a vengeance (or so we hope).
Shed Long played his first game of the 2021 season for the Mariners back on June 8th, having played in eight games total so far. Taking a look at his stat line, it’s hard not to get excited about his prospects going forward.
It’s been the last four games, especially where he has shined. Whether or not it is a small sample blip or an indicator of what is to come, it’s been a great stretch for him. 6-15, two doubles, five RBI. Oh… and a game-tying double in the 9th against one of the best closers in all of baseball.
That part of last night’s win was lost a bit amongst the hysteria surrounding Kyle Seager’s pinch-hit walk-off winning single. Without the double from Long, the Mariners easily could’ve lost the game instead, as all it would’ve taken was a ground ball instead to turn two and end the game.
With plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Mariners, both with the long-term plans for players on the team as well as the health of many of the current players, it’s great to see Long performing well. As the month of June goes on, it will be fun to see him play on a daily basis, helping to spell some of the other guys, and rotating through what can be a fun group of utility guys and position players including the aforementioned Moore and France.