The hope that lefty reliever Charlie Furbush will be ready for opening day is fading. The Mariners will have a fellow lefty Mike Montgomery pitch in a relief role as an insurance policy if Furbush's return is still behind schedule.

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PEORIA, Ariz. – On Saturday afternoon, Mariners manager Scott Servais said he anticipated lefty specialist Charlie Furbush would be healthy and ready to go when Seattle opens the 2016 season against the Rangers at Globe Life Park on April 4.

Less than 24 hours later, Servais’ hopes had lessened after Furbush attempted to play catch on Saturday and was forced to stop because for tightness in the shoulder.

“He played catch briefly,” Servais said.

The plan is for Furbush to play catch again on Tuesday to see if the shoulder feels better. Still, he hasn’t thrown off a mound since Monday, March 7, when he threw a live batting practice session and felt ready to pitch in Cactus League games. But that lingering tightness in the shoulder sidetracked that schedule.  And the Mariners are running out of time to build up his arm strength.

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“We are getting closer and he’s got to get in games and get going,” Servais said. “I’m not going to lie you. There is a little concern to where he’s at now. I still have my fingers crossed that he’s going to be ready for opening day, but we’ll just have to see where we are at.”

Furbush was placed on the disabled list on July 9 last season with biceps tendinitis. After failed attempts to come off the disabled list, he was diagnosed with small tear in his rotator cuff and shut down for the season. Surgery wasn’t needed and Furbush spent the offseason in Seattle rehabbing the injury and strengthening his shoulder. He threw off the mound for the first time in February and was expected to be ready for the season. The Mariners had him slotted as their late-inning lefty specialist – a role he’s excelled at the last three seasons.

Perhaps in anticipation of Furbush not being ready, Servais said they will now have lefty Mike Montgomery pitch in a relief role. Montgomery made his first Cactus League appearance on Saturday night in Goodyear, getting the start against the Reds. He had a solid outing, throwing three scoreless innings, while allowing two hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

“Very good,” Servais said of the reports on Montgomery’s outing. “He was very aggressive – maybe didn’t have his best changeup, but threw strikes and the fastball ticked up a little bit.”

Montgomery considers himself a starting pitcher, but he’s also out of minor league options and not going to make the Mariners’ opening day starting rotation. The Mariners don’t believe Montgomery would clear waivers if they designated him for assignment. Seattle could have continued to use him a starting pitcher and possibly traded him before spring training was over. But with Furbush ailing and Vidal Nuno already expected to be in the bullpen, it leaves only David Rollins as another lefty relief option.

“Everybody knows (Montgomery’s) situation, being out of options and what are we going to do there?” Servais said. “I think you’ll start to see him coming into games out of the bullpen. That might be his best shot to land a spot with us. He has started in the past and gives us some length, you can do some different things with him.”

Before he was acquired by the Mariners late last spring, Montgomery was being converted to a reliever by the Tampa Bay Rays.

“He hasn’t done a lot of it, but we’ll probably give him the option,” Servais said. “If he wants to stay starting and see how that plays out, but guys are smart. They look at the numbers, they look at the boards, they know where the opportunities lie. I don’t think he’ll have a problem there.”

 

Upcoming pitching probables

Sunday

  • RHP Nathan Karns vs. the Reds

Monday

  • RHP Taijuan Walker at Diamondbacks
  • RHP Felix Hernandez vs. Rockies

Tuesday

  • RHP Cody Martin vs. Angels
  • LHP Wade Miley vs. Brewers’ Class AAA team

 

Miley was scratched from his scheduled start against the Angels and will throw in the minor league game on Tuesday. It’s a typical move by managers when facing teams in their division.

“We aren’t going to throw him,” Servais said. “I think he’s going four plus or four innings so not against the Angels. We’ll keep him on the back fields here. He pitched against them the other day and he’s got a good chance to face the Angels quite a bit this season.

 

Reserves and relief pitchers vs. the Reds

Pitchers:

  • 47 Joe Wieland …………………………… RHP
  • 48 Mayckol Guaipe ……………………… RHP
  • 50 Blake Parker ………………………….. RHP
  • 88 Ramon Morla*………………………… RHP
  • 89 Ronald Dominguez*………………… RHP
  • 90 Dylan Unsworth* …………………….. RHP

Infielders:

  • 35 Gaby Sanchez …………………………. INF
  • 36 Shawn O’Malley (S) ………………….. INF
  • 56 Dae-Ho Lee …………………………….. INF
  • 68 Efren Navarro (L) ……………………… INF
  • 80 Rayder Ascanio (S)* …………………. INF
  • 81 Logan Taylor* ………………………….. INF
  • 82 Drew Jackson*…………………………. INF
  • 91 Tim Lopes* ……………………………… INF

Outfielders:

  • 83 Luis Liberato (L)* ………………………. OF
  • 84 Ian Miller (L)* ……………………………. OF
  • 85 Braden Bishop*…………………………. OF
  • 86 Austin Cousino (L)*……………………. OF
  • 92 Tyler O’Neill*…………………………….. OF
  • 99 Daniel Robertson ………………………. OF

Catchers:

  • 28 Steven Baron……………………………… C
  • 67 Rob Brantly (L) …………………………… C

 

* = from Minor League camp

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