General manager Jerry Dipoto said the hope is that Hernandez misses just one start. Manager Scott Servais was a little more cautious.
PEORIA, Ariz. — If you listen to general manager Jerry Dipoto’s Mariners-run podcast with Aaron Goldsmith called “The Wheelhouse,” or alternatively “Two men with lots of hair product,” there has been a hopeful timeline set for the return of Felix Hernandez.
Dipoto told Goldsmith on the podcast that was recorded on Wednesday morning that he hopes Hernandez will only miss one Cactus League start and then be back to his throwing progression.
Manager Scott Servais, who swears he doesn’t listen to The Wheelhouse, cautiously agreed with Dipoto’s sentiments.
“I hope,” he said. “He’s still got a little swelling in there. They’re working their tails off to try to get it out of there and get his range of motion back. When he gets that, we can get a ball in his hand and start him playing some catch. He’s anxious, but we do need to let it run its course a little bit. Hopefully he only misses one turn here in Spring Training. We’re still hopeful of that, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Obviously they won’t let him start throwing until all the swelling and pain is gone from the forearm.
“We’re smart enough to realize where we are in the season,” he said. “It’s probably not in his or our best interest to run him out there.”
If Hernandez were only to miss that one start, it likely wouldn’t be detrimental to his preparation for the regular season. Sure the Mariners had hoped to get him more innings this spring to get his mechanical and command issues sorted out. But this would mirror his previous spring trainings in terms of innings accrued.
“He can get ramped up probably as quick as anybody,” Servais said. “He has history of doing it, typically in a Spring Training he throws 17-18 innings. Our plan this year was to maybe get 25-27 innings in spring. So he’s done it before. Felix thinks he can do anything on really short notice. So his mindset is geared that way. But we have to do what’s best for him and best for our team. I can’t give you a date. I don’t know how it’ll affect things until he gets a ball in his hand. Once he gets a ball in his hand and start playing catch, then we can start mapping it. But until we get there, it’s pointless to speculate.”
*** Monday’s off-day will be a big day for the rest of the recovering Mariners. Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the team orthopedist, will be in Peoria to check on the status of Erasmo Ramirez (lat strain) and Ryon Healy (hand surgery) and Guillermo Heredia (shoulder surgery).
“Dr. Khalfayan will be back in town and reevaluate (Ramirez) at that point, along with four or five other guys and hopefully we’ll get good news on all of them,” Servais said.
Meanwhile Mitch Haniger (hand soreness) will visit a hand specialist in Scottsdale on Monday to see if he’s cleared for games.
“He’ll start getting a little bit more aggressive in the cage,” Servais said. “He feels great, we’re just being super cautious. He’ll take some dry swings today or tomorrow, then hit off the tee and normal progression off the toss and then BP in the cage and work to the field. We’ve got the three night games in a row next week and that’s where I’m hoping we get a few guys. Hopefully we start seeing Heredia, maybe DHing and doing some things like that. Haniger works his way into some games and we keep building and adding more pieces. That would be great.”
*** For those fans that like to come watch the morning workouts in Peoria, the schedule will be a little different over the next three days. To get players some rest, the Mariners won’t be taking pregame batting practice on Friday or Sunday. They’ll have a full afternoon workout before Saturday night’s game vs. the Angels in Peoria.
“Our program here the next few days will be a little different,” Servais said. “We have a little later start time tomorrow. It’ll be a little more of a backoff show-and-go day. We’re on the road and won’t have a full workout on the field. The next day is Saturday night game and we’ll have a full workout on the field. We come back with a day game the next day and again show-and-go. We’ve talked about trying to give guys a little more time off. With where we’re at, just health-wise, let them catch their breath. Off day on Monday, come back with a night game Tuesday, we should be in a good spot when we get to next week.”