ARLINGTON, Texas — Just when it looked as if Danny Hultzen might be getting somewhat close to putting on a Seattle Mariners uniform, the team’s prized pitching prospect was sidetracked by another injury.
The left-hander was scratched before his start Tuesday night in Tacoma after struggling to get loose and feeling tightness in his throwing shoulder.
On Wednesday, Hultzen met with Dr. Greg Popich, who is working in conjunction with Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the Mariners’ team doctor in Seattle.
According to general manager Jack Zduriencik, the results of the meeting were positive.
“We don’t think it’s anything major,” Zduriencik said. “We just think it’s something where we are going to take the precautionary route. It’s the smart thing to do.”
The doctors consider this “a minor setback” in Hultzen’s recovery from a rotator cuff strain he suffered in April. Hultzen experienced similar tightness while trying to prepare for a start on April 26 and was scratched. He was shut down for two weeks before beginning a long recovery process.
“I think it’s just an aggravation of what he’s had,” Zduriencik said. “What we’re going to do is look at maybe some adjustments to his rehab program. We’ll quiet it down for probably 10 to 14 days, where we’ll back him off and get him back on the rehab program. Everything is structurally fine. He just has this irritation that has flared up. We are just going to look at some alternatives on how to address this, but it’s not an issue that needs surgery. It’s nothing that is overly alarming.”
Zduriencik said he didn’t think it was being caused by Hultzen’s throwing mechanics, but he wouldn’t rule it out.
“I’ve talked to (the doctors) about that,” Zduriencik said. “And I talked to Rick Waits (minor league pitching coordinator) about it today as well and Chris Gwynn (director of minor league operations) as well. Everybody’s body is structured a little bit different. I think in this particular case there may be some weaknesses in there that he needs to have specifically strengthened.
“I’ll have more answers in the next day or two than I do today.”
Hultzen looked good in his first start back with the Rainiers last week. He threw six shutout innings, giving up two hits and one walk with six strikeouts. Zduriencik said Hultzen felt no pain afterward.
“He felt great,” Zduriencik said.
While Hultzen is starting another recovery, Jesus Montero’s journey back from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus is almost complete.
Zduriencik said Montero will serve as the designated hitter on Friday for the Mariners team in the Arizona rookie league.
“Everything is good,” Zduriencik said. “He’s been in Arizona working out really well. Obviously, we are going to DH (him), but he’s making good progress.
“The whole plan all along was just to give him a few days behind the plate, so I think what we’ll do now, especially this year, we’ll just keep him at first base, let him DH and get him playing again and get him swinging a bat.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said outfielder Michael Morse is feeling much better in his recovery from a strained quadriceps but would need to go on a rehab assignment before rejoining the team. … Outfielder Michael Saunders is progressing from a smashed middle finger on his throwing hand. He was a pinch runner Wednesday for Kendrys Morales in the eighth inning, then walked and scored on Kyle Seager’s winning two-run homer in the 10th. Wedge expects Saunders to be in the lineup in Cincinnati this weekend.
Seattle is expected to send right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3, 2.42 ERA) to the mound at 5:05 p.m. Thursday against the Rangers’ Martin Perez (2-1, 2.37), a left-hander. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.