Healy met with the media for the first time since the surgery to remove a piece of bone from his hand. He's hopeful to be pain free and ready by opening day.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Ryon Healy stole a few glances at the buzz activity on the practice field where he was supposed to be taking grounders and participating in drills with his teammates. Sitting on the astro-turfed covered area outside of the Mariners performance center and stretching out tired legs while wearing a protective brace on his surgically repaired right hand, the big first baseman didn’t allow himself to stare too long. That would only make the next week away from it that much more difficult. Better focus on the task at hand.
While the Mariners’ first full-squad workout took place on Tuesday with typical first-day enthusiasm and energy, Healy could only do as much as he was allowed in the weight room, which wasn’t anything that might endanger or injure that right hand. He later met with the media for the first time since reporting to spring training following the hand surgery on Feb. 14.
“It’s not fun when you see all those guys,” he said. “I’d much rather be sweating out there and working as hard as I can than in here doing media, but it is what it is. You have to make the best of it, no offense to you guys, but I’d much rather be hitting batting practice off of live arms and getting myself acclimated for a big league season.”
Instead, he’s in the process of rehabbing a surgery where a floating piece of bone was removed. The procedure left a small zipper of stitches on the top of his hand. He can’t really do much until they are removed.
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“A lot of it is just mobility initially until the stitches come out,” he said of his rehabilitation. “From there, it’s just going to be re-strengthening and getting it acclimated to weight room activity and then eventually into light hitting and obviously the hitting progression from there.”
The Mariners listed the initial recovery time as four to six weeks. And there is a hope that he can be ready to go by opening day. Seattle acquired Healy in the offseason from the A’s to be its every-day first baseman. So having surgery a few days before camp began wasn’t the type of first impression that Healy wanted to make with such a big opportunity in front of him.
“I think everyone knows the frustrations I’m feeling,” he said. “I can’t sit here and tell you guys that over and over again. It will become a broken record. For me, I’m focusing on the positive and coming out on the better side of this.”
The onset of the injury generates some frustrations. Healy had never dealt with anything like this before. And he technically didn’t do anything to make it occur other than taking his typical offseason batting practice, which is when he first felt the pain.
“It was a long process,” he said. “It kind of started early in December. You always have some rust in your hands and joints and whatever when you start hitting again. I kind of expected it to just go away and it never did. Eventually I spoke up after a couple of weeks because it was just too much and said, let’s get it checked out.”
Healy underwent some preliminary tests, including an x-ray. He was ordered to rest the hand and not hit.
“I took five weeks off and came back and hit and the pain was still there,” he said. “From there, we had to take some more drastic measures and really figure from a hand specialist what this was.”
The Mariners sent him to a hand specialist who discovered the bone spur and also assured Healy that there wasn’t any one specific moment that caused the pain.
“That was the most frustrating part was there was no initial thing that I did that irritated it,” he said. “I didn’t fall on it. I didn’t lift or a drop a weight on it. It was just literally picking up a bat and hitting. I guess over time it must have built up. It wasn’t even something I felt last season.”
Players hate the possibility of surgery in any circumstance, but Healy knew he couldn’t play through the pain. The Mariners were supportive in the desire to fix the issue completely.
“That was the biggest goal — what was the best timeline to get me healthy for the longterm, not a quick fix of what was going to get me on the field for spring training, but what’s going to get me on the field compete at the big league level and 100 percent to be the player I know I can be,” he said.
Because of the injury, Healy hasn’t has nearly the amount of offseason swings he would prefer. He’s found ways to keep offset that.
“I have done a lot of bottom hand hitting with one hand just to keep my eyes acclimated,” he said. “I’ve been able to track pitches and I will continue to do that this spring until I get two hands back on the bat. But there hasn’t been a ton of two-handed swings.”
Healy remained upbeat about his recovery.
“I have a great team around me and I’m meeting new people every day,” he said. “And they’re the ones that are going make judgments based on how I feel and it’s really going to be a day by day process. I don’t think there’s just some set program that I only follow to a T. It’s going to be, I felt great today so let’s do a little bit more tomorrow.”
The Mariners hope it will build into being ready for opening day.
“The thing with Ryon is just trying to get him healthy,” manager Scott Servais said. “Early feedback, after the surgery, doctors are very excited with where he’s at. He has minimal swelling and he’ll get the stitches out here in a couple days. He quickly wants to get to first base. It’s his right hand, so he can start working on picking balls in the dirt and stuff like that so he doesn’t lose too much time, certainly defensively.”