Ramirez felt some discomfort in his shoulder on Saturday morning.
PEORIA, Ariz. — If you had Erasmo Ramirez in your personal pool of the first Mariners’ pitcher injured in 2018 spring training, you can now claim your prize.
Though for most Mariners’ fans, it probably offers minimal reason to celebrate.
On Sunday, manager Scott Servais announced that Ramirez, who was locked into a spot in the back of Seattle’s opening day starting rotation, had suffered a minor lat strain and has been shut down from throwing for two weeks.
“He’s been in Arizona since the first of February and doing great and everything was fine,” Servais said. “He came in yesterday morning (Saturday) and said he felt some tightness or whatever.”
Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the Mariners’ team orthopedist, was in Peoria and examined Ramirez, diagnosing him with the lat strain. Ramirez was noticeably absent from Mariners’ workouts on Saturday where he was scheduled to throw a bullpen session. Sources confirmed that he was receiving a MRI on his throwing shoulder instead.
“He’s going to get evaluated pretty much daily, but the initial plan is to give him a couple weeks without throwing a ball,” Servais said. “It’s not great news, but not the end of the world. Things do happen. It’s pretty early. We’ll wait and see how it goes.”
The Mariners reacquired Ramirez from the Rays on July 28 for reliever Steve Cishek. He made 11 starts after joining Seattle, posting a 1-3 record with a 3.92 ERA. He pitched six innings or more in seven of his 11 starts with the Mariners, while also limiting opponents to two runs or less in seven of them.
While it is just days into spring training, a two-week setback in a starting pitcher’s throwing program is less than ideal. Ramirez has never had any lat issues. But the Mariners hope that by shutting him down early, they prevented something more serious.
“You go out there and turn it into something bigger and miss significant time,” Servais said. “It’s really good he didn’t throw a bullpen yesterday.”
Still, most lat strains, many of which are labeled minor at the outset, seem to keep pitchers out a minimum of four week and sometimes six. The Mariners believe Ramirez won’t be out a long time, but past history with this type of injury isn’t a cause for optimism.
Servais was measured in his comments. But after using 40 different pitchers last season, including 17 different starters and watching injuries decimate his pitching staff, how he could not being saying, “Here we go again.”
“I can’t,” he said. “I’m not going to. Why would I? We’ll keep moving along.”
If Ramirez isn’t ready to go for the regular season, the Mariners will look to in-house candidate — right-hander Andrew Moore and left-hander Ariel Miranda — to fill that open spot. Of course, Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto could also sign one of the many available free agents on market that are still available.