Mariners' Hultzen taking no risks with sore hip
The left-hander was scratched from the lineup Monday, but said he should only be out a couple days.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Another day, another bashing for the Mariners, who ran their winning streak to 10 games on Monday with a 16-6 demolition of the Colorado Rockies. They banged out 16 hits and added two more home runs to their mounting total.
The only discordant note, in fact, occurred before the game, when left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen was scratched from his scheduled appearance because of a mild right hip flexor strain.
Ominous as that sounds, however, the Mariners don't believe the injury is serious. Trainer Rick Griffin said the team is being "overly cautious" in treating their prized prospect.
"I'm not worried about it at all," Hultzen said. "I'm on the shelf for a couple of days, and back at it in another couple of days. It's not a big deal. I'm not worried about it."
Hultzen said he felt soreness during pitchers' early-morning running drills a couple of days ago. When he felt even sorer the next day, he let the training staff know, which Griffin called a smart move. Some young players tend to hide such news and try to play through it.
"I did that a little bit in college," Hultzen said. "There was a time my arm was a little sore, then it got more sore. That was really stupid. I learned it's dumber to try to go through than to just knock it out of the way. With something like this, to do something preventive is a lot easier than to risk it actually being a serious injury."
Hultzen has no history of leg injuries, and it's good that it's his right hip, not on the push-off side of the left-hander. That should speed recovery, Griffin said. Hultzen is doing hydrotherapy, riding an exercise bike and undergoing physical therapy, and will be able to play catch Tuesday, though not throw off a mound.
"It's just mild," Griffin said. "We're being overly cautious. The next three or four days we'll have a better idea what we're going to do with him."
At that point, he'll be examined by Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the team physician, "and we'll decide when he'll get back on the mound," Griffin said. "It will be a minimum of three or four days.
"It's not a good thing, because he has something and he's not going to get to pitch. But this is not a serious thing. It's nothing major. It's just something we need to get quieted down so he can get back to doing what he needs to do."
Shorter and sweeter
The story line is almost getting monotonous: For the eighth straight game, the Mariners had multiple homers, with Kyle Seager getting his first (a three-run shot) and Raul Ibanez hitting his second (solo).
But the offensive star was Casper Wells, believed to be battling Jason Bay for the final outfield job. Wells helped his case with a five-RBI day that included a triple, double and single. Wedge said he's been impressed with Wells's shorter stroke.
"It's obvious what kind of outfielder he is, and he's a good athlete, and he's worked hard to shorten up his swing," he said. "We've seen that this spring."
Wedge believes a shorter stroke will help Wells cut down on the peaks and valleys that have marked his Mariners career.
"I think it will, and I think it will allow him to see the ball better. It puts him in a better position to hit more consistently, and that's what we're trying to get these guys to do."
So far so good, as the Mariners raised their spring average to .310, including 24 homers in 11 games. Sixteen different players have homered.
Trouble for Walker
Top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker had a rough outing, giving up three runs, all in his second inning of work.
Walker's first inning was fine as he retired Colorado on nine pitches in the third. But in the fourth, he was greeted on his first pitch with a home run by Nolan Arenado, who was sitting fastball and got one belt-high.
From that point on, it was a struggle for Walker, who couldn't locate his fastball and also had issues with his breaking stuff. By the time the inning was over, he had given up three walks, three singles and two more runs.
"I just wasn't locating my fastball," Walker said. "I wasn't putting it where I wanted, and I was getting behind in the count, so they just jumped on the fastball, and I walked a couple of guys."
Walker knows the key for him is getting his curve and changeup over the plate.
"Anyone is going to hit a fastball when they see it constantly," he said. "I've got to keep working ahead in the counts and get my off-speed over for strikes."
Wedge said he left Walker in the game to give him a chance to work out of trouble.
"It should have been a good learning moment for him, and he did," Wedge said. "He's very fluid, very easy with his delivery. The ball jumps out of his hand, but he's still a young pitcher working to get better."
Starter Jon Garland, on the other hand, is a veteran pitcher working to regain his feel after missing all of last season following shoulder surgery. Garland, who worked two scoreless innings in his second outing, said it's coming back.
"It's starting to get better," he said. "Just the ball in the hand, it's hard to get a true feel out here, because your breaking ball's not going to break as much with that thin air. You can't grip it as well. It's starting to feel a little more comfortable each time. Even in the bullpen sessions in the back, it's starting to feel a little more comfortable every time."
Garland worked out of jams in both his innings, stranding two in each frame with timely ground outs via his sinker.
"I felt rushed in my mechanics a little bit," he said. "But overall, I'm still keeping the ball down. If they're hitting the ball into the ground, the ball's moving. It's missing the bat in the right places. So I can't be too upset."
The Mariners will have the first of their three days off on Tuesday
• Jay Buhner arrived in camp for a guest-coaching stint and was in uniform for Monday's game.
|E.Young cf||3||1||2||1||F.Gutierrez cf||2||1||0||0|
|T.Wheeler cf||1||0||0||0||J.Morban cf||2||1||0||0|
|Brignac 2b||3||0||0||0||Seager 3b||3||3||1||3|
|J.Herrera 2b||1||0||0||0||V.Catrala 3b||2||0||1||0|
|Pacheco c||2||0||1||0||Ibanez dh||2||3||2||2|
|K.Matthes rf||2||1||1||2||Pegro ph-dh||3||2||2||0|
|Cuddyer 1b||3||0||0||0||Smoak 1b||1||1||0||0|
|B.Paulsen 1b||2||0||0||0||Jacobs 1b||2||0||0||0|
|Arenado 3b||3||1||2||1||C.Wells rf||4||3||3||5|
|Manzella 3b||2||0||0||0||Thames lf||5||1||2||2|
|Colvin rf||3||0||1||0||Shoppach c||4||0||2||3|
|G.Molina c||2||0||0||0||J.Hicks c||1||0||1||1|
|LeMahieu ss||3||2||0||0||Andino 2b||3||0||0||0|
|C.Adames ss||0||0||0||0||S.Romero 2b||2||0||0||0|
|H.Wrigley dh||4||1||2||1||Triunfel ss||5||1||2||0|
|Colorado||000 302 100||—||6|
|Seattle||201 650 20x||—||16|
|Batista L, 0-1||1||4||6||0||2||2|
|T.Walker W, 1-0||2||4||3||3||3||1|
Spring Training statistics
|Slugging %||.585||Fourth (tie)|
|HR per game||2.18||First|
|Runs per game||7.55||First|
|* On-base plus slugging %|