Injury fells Sherrill for season

MARINERS notebook: Elbow woes may end career of lefty reliever George Sherrill

April 30, 2012 

TORONTO – Left-hander reliever George Sherrill never seemed to find a comfort zone in spring training with the Seattle Mariners, who now know why.

“George will have surgery (Friday),” manager Eric Wedge said Sunday. “There’s a lot going on in that elbow.”

Officially, the surgery will be Tommy John reconstructive surgery, and Sherrill will miss the rest of the season and at least some of 2013.

Sherrill, 35, was signed as a free agent during the off-season as a left-on-left specialist for a bullpen that hadn’t had one in years. After passing his physical, however, Sherrill never pitched without issues.

“The last time I saw an X-ray of my elbow, the bone looked like dog food,” Sherrill said in spring training.

He appeared in two regular season games – the last on April 9 in Texas – and had an earned-run average of 27.00, giving up six hits and two home runs in 1 innings.

The surgery could put Sherrill’s career in question, and if so, it’s been a remarkable ride that began with him pitching for five seasons in independent leagues.

Former Mariners scout Charlie Kerfeld found him, and Seattle signed Sherrill in 2003, and one year later he was in the bullpen.

After three seasons and 195 appearances with Seattle, Sherrill went to Baltimore as part of the Erik Bedard deal – and became an All-Star closer for the Orioles.

He has since pitched for the Dodgers and Braves, last year going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 51 games for Atlanta.

General manager Jack Zduriencik signed him to a one-year, $1.1 million contract Dec. 30.

WAITING FOR ‘GUTI’

The return of Franklin Gutierrez does not appear imminent.

Sidelined since early March by a partially torn pectoral muscle, Gutierrez had just returned to full baseball activities – running, throwing, hitting – when he was felled by what has now been diagnosed as plantar fasciitis in his heel.

He hasn’t run in a week, and the earliest he’ll try again is Tuesday in Peoria, Ariz., where he’s still working out with the Mariners rookie league players.

Given that Gutierrez did not play spring training games, he’s essentially starting from scratch when he’s healthy enough to begin a 20-day rehabilitation assignment.

That won’t happen soon.

SHORT HOPS

In his first 71 big-league games, Kyle Seager had 20 doubles – the second-highest total in franchise history after 20 games behind Rod Craig, who had 23 in 1979-80. Seager doubled Sunday, then had a sharp ground ball hit the first base bag and carom directly to first baseman Adam Lind for an out. ... Miguel Olivo is hot after a terrible start, with a home run and single Sunday extending his hitting streak to eight games and raising his batting average to .195. ... Jason Vargas has begun to expect few runs from his offense, and he has reason. In his past 21 starts, Seattle has scored two runs or fewer for him 12 times.

ON TAP

Seattle plays at Tampa, a 4:10 p.m. (PDT) game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (2-1, 2.48 ERA) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 2.84).

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