PEORIA, Ariz. — A day after the Mariners announced that Hisashi Iwakuma was out four to six weeks with a strained tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, manager Lloyd McClendon casually mentioned that prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker has mild soreness in his throwing shoulder that has put him slightly behind schedule.
“It’s nothing major,” McClendon said. “He had a little soreness. He’s stretching out and feeling good. He’s probably a few days behind as far as his bullpen (sessions) go.”
It might be nothing major to McClendon or the Mariners’ medical staff. But to many Mariners fans, who are already predisposed to think the worst is only a day away, this minor bit of news was the equivalent of a chunk of the cloudless blue Arizona sky falling.
But Walker only chuckled when told McClendon’s comments were making more than a few fans panic.
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“I’m fine,” he said. “I got it checked out. I’m just taking it a little bit slower than everyone else. I’m still playing catch and everything. It’s not like they’ve shut me down. I just get some extra treatment. This is just normal soreness.”
So the fear should be quelled, right?
Well, Mariners fans are understandably reticent after hearing that Danny Hultzen’s shoulder issues were not serious last season, only to see him eventually need rotator-cuff surgery that will force him to miss all of this season.
But unlike Hultzen, this soreness isn’t happening in the season after a spring training full of throwing. And Walker isn’t being completely shut down from activity for a long period of time. He played catch during Thursday’s first workout and even threw a few pickoff throws to first base.
Mariners sign Wolf, Miner
With the results from their Wednesday physicals cleared by team medical staff, the Mariners announced the signings of left-handed pitcher Randy Wolf and right-handed pitcher Zach Miner to minor-league contracts.
Both players signed incentive-laden deals.
According to Fox Sports, Wolf, 37, will make $1 million if he makes the team out of Peoria and an additional $250,000 if he stays on the roster for 60 days. There are also a slew of performance-related incentives based on number of starts, innings pitched and number of relief appearances. Per multiple sources, Miner will make $750,000 if he makes the Mariners out of spring.
Wolf did not pitch last season after having Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm for the second time. He had the same procedure in 2005. In 2012, he made 24 starts and one relief appearance for the Brewers, going 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA before being released in August. He was picked up by the Orioles and made two starts and three relief appearances.
Miner, 31, pitched most of the past three seasons in the minor leagues for three organizations after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010. He made three starts and 13 relief appearances for the Phillies last season, posting an 0-2 record with a 4.40 ERA.
• Catcher Manny Pina and reliever Ramon Ramirez were not at the first workout. Both are still in Venezuela because of a visa issues.
• Right-hander Hector Noesi suffered a sprained ankle a week ago and is limited in the early workouts.
• Iwakuma did do several drills on the field with the pitchers, but did not touch a baseball and simulated throwing.
• First baseman Justin Smoak reported to Peoria. He participated in a workout with a large group of position players who have reported early and are working out.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish