In the days leading up to the all-star game, Yusei Kikuchi was placed on the IL. As the Mariners lone all-star selection, many were worried about what was going on with the team’s star pitcher.
It came out that he was exposed to someone with Covid, and it was a precautionary measure that was taken. He was tested and received negative results, which led to everyone thinking Kikuchi would be good to go for the all-star game to represent the Mariners. He was at the team picture for the all-star game, and fans all over were excited to see him pitch.
Then, it was announced that the Mariners lefty would not be playing in the 2021 all-star game.
According to Larry Stone, Kikuchi just didn’t think he was in a position to pitch. It didn’t seem to be injury-related at all, but details are still scarce. Kevin Cash, the AL manager, wanted a full staff, and went and got a late replacement for Kikuchi. You would think that he would go and get a Mariners pitcher to replace the lone representative on the team, right?
Kendall Graveman would’ve been a fine choice here, as he has had a great year. He struggled a bit after coming back from his Covid diagnosis but was lights out before missing time. Instead, with Kikuchi and Gerrit Cole inactive, Cash selected Taylor Rodgers from the Twins and Andrew Kittredge (his own player from the Rays) to replace them.
Now, the Mariners will head into the 2021 all-star game with zero players in the game. It’s a massive oversight by the league and a slap in the face to Mariners fans. It shouldn’t be that big of a surprise though, as Rob Manfred has proved time and time again that he doesn’t really care about the actual game of baseball. It may not be solely on him, but he should’ve made sure that the Mariners still had a player in the game.
Bring in Mitch Haniger. JP Crawford. Graveman. They’re all deserving, and the Mariners should have a team representative there. Instead, we will be seeing a Mariner-less all-star game, even though the team is 48-43 and fighting for a wild card berth. Maybe this will light even more of a fire under the Mariners, helping to push them further towards ending the postseason drought.