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<  Shannon Drayer

Tough injury for Zunino at a horrible time for Mariners

By Shannon Drayer

Terrible news for the Mariners, even worse for young catcher Mike Zunino: The team announced this afternoon that he has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured hamate bone in his left hand. A source tells me Humberto Quintero, formerly of Phillies, has been signed to take his place and is on his way to Seattle right now.

Zunino sustained the fracture on his RBI single in the second inning of last night's game. He remained in the game for three more innings and was removed when the wrist stiffened up on him. An MRI Friday morning revealed the fracture. He will undergo surgery early next week and is expected to miss six weeks.

Zunino was a key part of the Mariners' recent success, hitting .364/.483/.591/1.074 over their last eight wins. Beyond that he was the best defensive presence the Mariners have seen for a long time behind the plate.

How long it takes to return will depend on whether or not the surgery is to repair the fracture or remove the bone completely. It most likely is the latter, which takes about two weeks less recovery time. If the injury sounds familiar, it should. Ken Griffey Jr. suffered the same injury when he fouled a ball off his left hand in June of 1996. He had the bone removed and missed just 23 days.

As for Quintero, he was designated for assignment by the Phillies yesterday after hitting .250/.294/.406/.700 in 24 games and 68 plate appearances. Last year he played in just 43 games. There is a spot open on the 40-man roster, so no corresponding move will need to be made.

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