Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto: James Paxton, Felix Hernandez could return during next homestand
As the Mariners climbed up to .500 for the first time this season, there was another percentage rapidly rising – the amount of Seattle’s intended starting rotation on the disabled list.
With Hisashi Iwakuma hitting the 10-day DL on Wednesday, the Mariners now have 80 percent of their original five-man rotation out of action. It started with Drew Smyly, who was diagnosed with flexor strain just before spring training ended. Nearly a month passed until Felix Hernandez was placed on the DL with shoulder bursitis on April 26, and the hits have kept coming since then. On May 3, James Paxton and his 1.43 ERA went down with a forearm strain. Four days later, it was Iwakuma’s turn with right shoulder inflammation.
While the injuries to Seattle’s arms have reached plague-like levels, it may not be long before they start making their way back to the rotation. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto told “Danny, Dave and Moore” on Wednesday that the team was lucky to shut down Paxton before his injury progressed further, and that he and Hernandez could return at some point during or shortly after the team’s seven-game homestand next week.
“We’ve generally received good progress reports on most or all (of the injured starters),” Dipoto said. “I think the guy that is going to progress quicker than most, at least we anticipate that, would be James Paxton. We covered that early and Pax was built up. He starts throwing tomorrow. Felix started throwing (Monday). … This is not a problem that’s gonna solve itself by (next) Monday, but we do feel like in the case of Paxton and perhaps Felix, we are somewhat optimistic that we’ll get those guys back toward the tail end of the next homestand or as we head back out on the road as we start the (next) trip.”
Regarding Iwakuma, who is Seattle’s oldest starter at 36 years old, it was initially a batted ball off his knee during his last outing that worried the Mariners, but a shoulder issue also appeared that turned out to be the deciding factor to put him out of action.
“He (was) playing catch, we’re trying to determine whether the knee is stable enough to go pitch, and I think generally most including Kuma were satisfied that he was making progress there. But along the way he was having some shoulder discomfort which is obviously the primary reason why we shut him down,” Dipoto said. “Any time you’re dealing with pitchers and arm fatigue, injury or inflammation, it’s best to be conservative, and in this case we really didn’t see another option rather than to just shut him down and all hands on deck, whatever it takes.”
Dipoto added that Iwakuma will be shut down for a week to 10 days before the Mariners will figure out a timeline for his return. He also said that around the same time they’ll get a clearer picture of what the next steps in Smyly’s return will be.