Mariners notebook: Rehab assignments come into view for James Paxton, Mitch Haniger
Mariners manager Scott Servais started his daily meeting with the media Thursday in a different manner than usual. Instead of waiting for questions, he had a pair of glasses on and read off updates on a slew of the Mariners’ injured players.
While Servais may wish he didn’t have to provide updates on so many players, he seemed happy to be able to deliver positive news as each of the seven players that Servais addressed is progressing in their recovery. Here’s a quick breakdown, plus some extra details general manager Jerry Dipoto shared Thursday in his weekly interview with “Danny, Dave and Moore” on 710 ESPN Seattle:
• James Paxton (forearm strain) was scheduled to throw a bullpen Thursday and will “definitely” make a rehab start, possibly in Double-A, according to Servais. “He’s come along very well,” Dipoto said. “He’s a hard worker and it really was a conservative move on our part (to put him on the DL). We wanted to take no risks with Pax. He is pain-free, he is throwing his long-toss program, he is progressing toward the mound. … If everything holds for him we should see him start a game the next homestand.”
• Mitch Haniger (oblique strain) was set to throw from the outfield Thursday, a day after he took batting practice. “Going really well,” Dipoto said of Haniger’s recovery. “Mitch will be here tomorrow taking pregame with the team and then on a plane making his way toward the San Jose area, which is home for Mitch, and he’s going to spend the weekend through Monday, Tuesday of next week playing with our Modesto club in the Cal League, and try to get three, four days of at-bats. And if all goes well and we have no setbacks, he’ll hop on a plane and join the club in Washington.” The Mariners will be in D.C. to play the Nationals in three games starting next Tuesday.
• Robinson Cano (quad strain) was scheduled to take batting practice Thursday for the first time since landing on the DL Tuesday. “He’s feeling better, progressing along,” Servais said. Dipoto added that Cano is expected to rejoin the team next week. He’ll be eligible to come off the 10-day DL on Tuesday in Washington.
• Felix Hernandez (shoulder bursitis) and Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder bursitis) both were to play catch Thursday.
• Drew Smyly (arm flexor strain) played catch for the first time Wednesday since hitting the DL at the end of spring training. Servais said he “felt pretty good.”
• Reliever Shae Simmons (forearm flexor strain) is still at extended spring training in Arizona but has progressed to throwing bullpens and is “moving closer” to a rehab assigment, Servais said.
• After Christian Bergman stepped up with 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over the Athletics, Dipoto spoke about how the team stockpiled pitchers like him to create depth in case several starting pitchers went down to injury – which has been the case for Seattle, which has four of its original five on the DL. “He looked great. One thing Bergy has done his entire career is he pounds the strike zone,” Dipoto said. “In the event of injury … what is a really attractive trade is just premium strike throwing. That’s something that Christian Bergman has always done, it’s something that Ryan Weber has always done, it’s something that Dillon Overton has always done. You know, some days they’re gonna give up hits and some days they’re gonna have a rough go, but generally speaking most or all of them will continue to pound the strike zone and give us a shot.”
• Bergman was a guest on “Bob, Groz and Tom” to talk about his stellar start and what led to him landing in Seattle. You can listen to the entire interview here.
• You can find the lineups for Thursday night’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox at 7:10 on 710 ESPN Seattle in this post.