By Brenden West
CLINTON — Clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Division as the Midwest League baseball season nears its final week, the Clinton LumberKings received bad news Friday when half the starting infield was placed on the disabled list.
Third baseman D.J. Peterson suffered an open fracture of the left mandible after being struck by a pitch in the jaw in the third inning of Thursday's game against Wisconsin. The 12th overall pick in June's MLB draft underwent surgery Friday at the University of Iowa Hospitals. His jaw was wired shut as part of the procedure, and it's possible he'll need a second surgery, LumberKings media relations director Chad Seely said.
Geoff Baker, who covers the Mariners for the Seattle Times, reported that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said the injury would keep Peterson out for six weeks and might prevent him from playing in the Arizona Fall League.
The blow left a residual effect in the Clinton clubhouse a day later.
"Obviously, he was valuable to us with his presence in the lineup," LumberKings manager Eddie Menchaca said after Friday's 1-0 loss to Wisconsin. "It was tough today bouncing back. The impact on today, it seemed like that's all we talked about. It was kind of a mental breakdown for our team because they care about him."
Clinton second baseman Tim Lopes had been sent to Seattle earlier in the week to have his shoulder examined. Replacing Peterson and Lopes on the roster are infielders Luis Caballero and Zach Shank, both players that have jumped multiple minor-league levels to come to Clinton.
Shank, a shortstop, was playing for Pulaski of the Appalachian League. He was batting .230 in 52 games with 11 doubles, five triples, one home run and 19 runs batted in. He also was 9-for-9 stealing bases. He was the 837th player taken in the June draft (28th round). He was a first-team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player for Marist College.
Caballero, a third baseman with Seattle's entry in the Arizona League, was batting in .280 in 43 games with five doubles, one triple and 13 RBIs. Caballero was acquired from the Atlanta organization in a 2011 trade for Jack Wilson.
Shank was inserted in the lineup immediately Friday and produced, going 1-for-3 in the last slot of the order. Menchaca said he was encouraged by both players' abilities.