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Thursday, July 4, 2013 - Page updated at 10:30 p.m.

Danny Hultzen has ‘minor setback’ in shoulder

By Larry Stone
Seattle Times staff reporter

ARLINGTON, Texas — Left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen, scratched from his scheduled start in Tacoma on Tuesday when he couldn’t get loose, suffered just “a minor setback,” Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said.

Hultzen, who missed two months earlier this season with a strained rotator cuff, saw Dr. Greg Popich in Seattle on Wednesday.

Hultzen’s condition was described as an “irritation” in the area of his rotator cuff.

‘(Popich) and (team medical director) Ed Khalfayan have been in contact all day,” Zduriencik said. “I think we’re considering it a minor setback. I think it’s just an aggravation of what he’s had. 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. It’s just a minor setback from where he was at.”

The key now, Zduriencik said, is to figure out what is causing the irritation.

“The doctors have an idea and the rehab program will address that,” he said.

Hultzen, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft, worked six shutout innings last week in his first start back from the original injury in late April.

“All the criteria for him to come back and pitch was good,” Zduriencik said. “He felt the strength was good. He really felt fine, so the fact it flared up again — has started to flare up — that’s why they backed him off yesterday.

““We’re all going to get our heads together again in the next couple of days to figure out exactly what we’re going to do. But right now, he’ll be on medication. Once they quiet him down, they’ll start his strength and conditioning program again. But I do think we’re all going to be involved in figuring out why this irritation has popped up again.”

Asked if he expected Hultzen to pitch again this year, Zduriencik said, “Oh yeah. A few minutes ago, Ed said he thinks it’s a minor setback. But because of who Danny is, and what we have invested in him, the quality of guy we think he’s going to be, I think the best thing to do, we’d rather be a day late than a day early on this one.”

Montero will DH in Arizona Rookie League

Jesus Montero, who underwent knee surgery in early June, is going to DH in a game in the Arizona Rookie League on Friday. Montero’s days as a catcher are almost certainly done for this season. He had been sent to Tacoma to be converted to first base when the injury occurred.

“I don’t think we’ll put him behind the plate,” Zduriencik said. “I think right now, certainly based on what he’s gone through, and 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.”

Note

• When Raul Ibanez hit his 20th homer on Tuesday, he became the oldest player in MLB history to have 20 homers before the All-Star break. Ibanez is 41; Barry Bonds previously held the mark with 23 homers at age 39 before the 2004 break.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com.


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