The Mariners are dealing with an assortment of injuries — a few major, most minor — but they are hopeful to get some of the players back in the next week.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Dings, dents and recoveries — it’s that time of spring training where players are starting to feel the effects of the daily grind.
Obviously, much has been about the injuries to Ryon Healy (right hand surgery), Erasmo Ramirez (lat strain), Mitch Haniger (right hand discomfort), Guillermo Heredia (offseason shoulder surgery) and Felix Hernandez (forearm contusion).
You can add infielders Rey Navarro (hamstring strain) and Zach Vincej (quad tightness) and relievers Art Warren (hip discomfort), Matt Festa (hip/sciatic issue) and Nick Vincent (arm soreness) to that list.
“I know it’s a lot of names and you are writing about different things,” manager Scott Servais said. “But we are being cautious early. We’ve been pulling back on these guys.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- Analysis: Assessing Jaden Rashada and UW's future options at quarterback
- Kraken have a secret weapon at goalie … 65 pounds of inspiration
- Seahawks want to bring back QB Geno Smith while still creating 'balance' in salary cap
- Mariners position analysis: Could Eugenio Suarez be even better in 2023?
- Sounders partnership with Providence draws ire of fans
On that cautious front, there is some positive news for Heredia and Haniger, who could start playing in Cactus League games next week.
Heredia is well ahead of schedule from his offseason shoulder cleanup. The Mariners are stunned by his progress. He’s already been participating in full workouts.
“He’s in a really good spot,” Servais said. “He’s so far ahead of the scheduled time that the doctors are a little bit cautious. He is going to get re-examined early next week. And if he gets the full go from Dr. (Edward) Khalfayan at that point, then we are going to start sliding him into games and work from there. He’s ready to go. But when you have a pretty major surgery like that there’s a protocol and rehab time. He’s so far ahead of that they’re like — ‘we’ve still got time.’ But he’s worked his tail off and he looks good.”
Haniger has yet to take batting practice after being shut down with hand discomfort. But they are hoping that will change soon. Haniger is getting antsy about taking full swings.
“We are trying to speed that one up too,” Servais said. “He feels good. Hanny has not taken BP yet. He’s been in the cage doing one-hand swings and stuff. He’s supposed to get reevaluated by Dr. (Donald) Sheridan the hand specialist on Friday. We are trying to move that up a little bit. We’re anxious just like the players are.”
The Mariners are being cautious with Vincent, who had some general fatigue and soreness in his arm after some early bullpen sessions. Because of his heavy usage last season — 69 appearances, 64 2/3 innings pitched — the Mariners had already planned to bring him along slowly this spring. Vincent said the arm is feeling fine now and he’s going to throw a live batting practice session in the coming days and then prepare for Cactus League games.
“He was throwing bullpens early,” Servais said. “He’s little tender, nothing alarming. Bullpen guys, you can slow play them. They need to work up to 20 pitches and that’s it vs. a starter that has a setback and takes a longer to get going. That’s why you haven’t seen Vincent.”
Warren and Festa are at two different points with their injuries. Both arrived to camp dealing with them, but Warren has at least been able to throw off the mound.
“Arm is great, he’s been throwing all his bullpens,” Servais said of Warren. “He came into camp with a little bit of a hip issue and hadn’t done any (pitchers fielding practice) until yesterday. He’s going to do it again today, a little more aggressive, have a day off and then probably be in a game right after that.”
Warren has a big fastball that can touch 99 mph and he was excellent in the Arizona Fall League, not allowing a run in nine appearances and posting a 3-0 record with three saves. He’ll start the season at Class AA Arkansas, but could track quickly through the system.
“I’m really anxious to see him pitch,” Servais said. “I’m intrigued by what I’ve seen in the bullpens. The season he had last year and then he was dominant in the Fall League. He could be a nice boost for us sometime, maybe later in the year.”
Festa’s issue is more problematic. He hasn’t thrown off a mound and hasn’t done much for activity other than rehabbing the injury. The Mariners just want him to be ready for his minor league season.
“Festa has not thrown either,” Servais said. “He also has a hip issue. Working through that. He’s been in the training room a ton. He showed up at camp with the issue. He is behind and isn’t projected to make the team. He was here based on the season he had last year and right now the focus is getting him ready for the regular season. I don’t have a timetable when he’s going to be on the mound throwing. It’s more of a muscular thing, sciatic type situation. He’s feeling better, but he’s not on the mound yet.”
*** Servais was very pleased with Marc Rzepczynski’s first outing of the spring — one scoreless inning with two strikeouts on Tuesday.
“Really one of the highlights yesterday,” Servais said. “He’s actually made a couple mechanical adjustments to his delivery. I thought he looked great. He was staying on line better, he finished his pitches, the breaking ball was really late and had good depth to it. Really good first outing for him.”
It isn’t typical for veterans with Rzepczynski’s time in the big leagues to want to make changes to mechanics, but he felt it was needed.
“I think it’s interesting,” Servais said. “You find veteran players, the guys still want to get better. Zep didn’t finish on a real high note last year. He got frustrated with where things are at. It’s something he takes into the offseason. HE comes into camp, quickly gets with our pitching coaches and here’s what I’m thinking about and they throw a couple things at him. That’s what allows veteran players to stay at a high level for a long time. You’ve got to keep adding and trying to get better.”
*** David Phelps threw a 28-pitch live batting practice session on Tuesday.
“I felt great,” he said. “My arm has felt great all spring.”
Phelps will likely make his first Cactus League appearance in three days.
*** Reserves for today’s game