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Mariners 1B Ryon Healy
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Mariners notebook: Ryon Healy glad to finally have his injury figured out

Mariners 1B Ryon Healy, who has been out since May, is set to begin rehab after hip surgery. (AP)

On Tuesday, Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy underwent successful right hip debridement surgery performed by Dr. Mark Safron at Stanford University Medical Center. Recovery and rehab is expected to take four to six months, with Healy expected to begin rehab next Monday.

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While surgery is never good news for an athlete, the hip issue may be a preferred injury to the spinal stenosis that was was discovered when Healy was initially sidelined with back pain on May 21. Discovering the hip condition, however, was a tough and often frustrating process. After two major starts-and-stops in his rehab work for his back over a two-month period, including an epidural to ease the pain and enable further work in between, Healy began to wonder if his back really was the issue.

“I was rehabbing the back exclusively for eight weeks and for me, you put eight weeks into anything and it is going to get a little better, and I wasn’t seeing any improvement in my back,” he said.

In the back of Healy’s mind were hip issues he had the previous year, issues that led to a cyst in his hip needing to be drained when the season ended. He talked to his trainer at the Mariners’ spring training complex and asked if they could attack the rehab from a different angle, doing work on his hip. When the focus was put on that area, the problem became quickly apparent.

“The hip flared up,” said Healy. “I realized I was no longer using my hip properly and my back was compensating for a lot of the swing pattern, rotational movements that obviously my job requires. For me that’s when I realized my hip had shut down and it was no longer functioning, and my back had to do all of the work.”

MRIs were taken and sent to specialists on both coasts, who concurred that Healy was suffering from a substantial hip impingement. In addition to the surgery to shave down the bone and clean up the hip labrum, a microfracture procedure was performed to restore cartilage in a small area.

“Fortunately for me I think I dodged a lot of the microfracture stuff,” Healy said. “It was one small spot, they repaired it and said it should be as good as new.”

So how is all of this perhaps better than the initial diagnosis of spinal stenosis? Healy is optimistic that it was the hip that was the issue the entire time.

“The stenosis is something that is definitely there, but it was something that was told to me by the first specialist in Seattle that this could be genetic, it could be something that has been there my entire life.” he said.

Healy is hoping the numbers are in his favor, with doctors telling him 50 percent of their hip patients had severe back pain.

“They showed the breakdowns of how the pelvis works and everything rotates and how the hips can affect it. It makes so much sense that the hip impingement that I was having was really jolting my pelvis and lower back every time I was swinging and running, that the pain had to go somewhere and it was my lower back.”

Healy, who is first-year arbitration-eligible next season, plans on spending his offseason rehabbing at the Mariners spring training complex. Not the offseason plans anyone would want to have, but for Healy rehab with peace of mind is something he can embrace.

“Knowing I got some answers for the amount of time I spent searching for different things and talking to so many specialists, it is almost a sense of relief,” he said.

Notes

• Félix Hernández made a rehab start with the Mariners’ High-A affiliate, the Modesto Nuts, on Thursday night. He threw two-plus innings, giving up two runs on three hits, walking none and striking out three. According to Nuts broadcaster Keaton Gillogly (follow him on Twitter here), the three hits were not hit hard, the fastball was 89-90 mph and all of his pitches had good movement.

• It was a huge night all around in the Mariners’ minors. And if you are not following @MiLBMariners, you should be.

In addition to the above update, Jarred Kelenic had a big night, going 2 for 4 with his sixth home run for Modesto.

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