OAKLAND -- A similar play that basically ended Mike Morse's season a year ago did significantly less damage to Wladimir Balentien, who admitted Sunday that he was fortunate to sustain only a slight left wrist sprain and swollen elbow when he tried to make a diving catch in Saturday's game against the Athletics. The near highlight-reel catch came in the first inning, when Balentien dove for a ball hit by Oakland shortstop Orlando Cabrera. The ball was momentarily in Balentien's glove, but came out and Cabrera ended up with a double. The Mariners medical staff checked out Balentien, who remained in the game, but came out in the sixth inning.
"I was lucky," he said on Sunday. "I had the ball for a second, but when I rolled over on my wrist, I couldn't feel my hand, and that's the reason I lost the ball." There were flashbacks to mid-April last season when Morse was injured at Safeco Field. "I wasn't here last year when Morse got hurt, but I heard it was a similar play," Balentien said. Morse dove for a ball hit by Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero and jammed his arm into the ground so hard that his left shoulder was badly damaged. Morse eventually had season-ending reconstructive surgery. "I am just a little score today and available to pinch-run or play defense," Balentien said. Manager Don Wakamatsu said Balentien's left elbow is swollen. "We will take it day-to-day, but he should be fine," the manager said. "It doesn't look like we'll have to put him on the disabled list." Balentien predicted that with a day off on Monday, he would be good to go for Tuesday afternoon's home opener against the Angels at Safeco Field. The 24-year-old is off to a good start this season, going 4-for-10 in his first five games.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.