The Seattle Mariners made adjustments to their 40-man roster Friday to protect against the Rule 5 draft, adding outfielder Boog Powell and infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan.
Both moves were expected.
But the bigger news was the announcement that former first-round draft pick Danny Hultzen was designated for assignment. This was also an expected move, because Hultzen was out of minor-league options. With his injury history, there is a good chance Hultzen clears waivers and accepts an outright assignment to the Mariners’ minor league system.
Hultzen, who was selected with the second overall pick of the 2011 draft, has been hampered by shoulder issues the past three seasons.
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In 2013, Hultzen was 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA in his first four starts with Class AAA Tacoma and appeared on the verge of joining the Mariners. But shoulder stiffness before his fifth start shut him down. After a lengthy rest and recover period, Hultzen returned to the mound for a rehab start June 22 in the Arizona Rookie League, throwing five innings. He followed that with a start for Tacoma, throwing six shutout innings and allowing two hits with six strikeouts and a walk. But the pain returned. He tried another long rest and rehab and appeared in a one-inning start in September. But the shoulder discomfort never subsided.
On Oct. 1, 2013, Hultzen underwent surgery to repair damage to his rotator cuff, labrum and shoulder capsule. The surgery was so extensive that he sat out the 2014 season recovering and rebuilding shoulder strength.
Hultzen returned to spring training this past season and looked strong early, even touching 95 mph in a Cactus League game. But the shoulder began to fatigue. The Mariners waited until May 1 to start him with Class AA Jackson. He made three shorts starts with the Generals, but fatigue and soreness in the shoulder were issues. The Mariners shut him down. He made an effort to come back again, pitching in instructional league after some rest. But he was shut down in July. There was some hope he might pitch in the fall, but the Mariners sent him home to rest his shoulder.
It’s been a frustrating stretch of injuries, failures and disappointments for one of the most well-liked, optimistic guys in the Mariners organization.
Kivlehan had a decent first season with Class AAA Tacoma, hitting .256 with 25 doubles, a triple, 22 homers, 73 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 123 games. A fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft, he can play both infield corner positions and both outfield corner positions.
Powell was acquired by the Mariners as part of the six-player trade with the Rays this offseason. He started the season in Class AA Montgomery and moved up to Class AAA Durham. He hit .295 with 16 doubles, nine triples, three homers, 40 RBI and 18 stolen bases with a .385 on-base percentage in the combined stints.