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Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez confident he will not be out for long

Mariners pitcher Erasmo Ramirez first experienced discomfort with his lat last week. (AP)

PEORIA Ariz. – Just days into camp, the news that a Mariners starter had already been shut down was ominous indeed after the injury hits the starting rotation took in 2017. The report was Erasmo Ramirez, who slots into the No. 4 spot in the rotation, had suffered a lat strain and would not pick up a baseball for two weeks.

Lat strains can be tricky – James Paxton missed four months after leaving a game with a lat strain in 2014 – as general manager Jerry Dipoto acknowledged, but the hope is Ramirez will not miss much time.

Dipoto provides injury updates on Erasmo, Healy, Kyle Lewis

“Lat issues can become bigger or long-term issues,” Dipoto said. “Hopefully we caught this one early enough that it is short- to mid-term. We don’t know yet. We’re hoping that in two weeks we are going to get a thumbs up and he is ready to roll. That’s not a slam dunk.”

Ramirez himself is optimistic he will get the all clear soon.

“I’m not feeling anything with it right now. I feel good, strong. I am just giving the muscle time to relax,” Ramirez said Tuesday in the Mariners clubhouse.

Ramirez first felt something not quite right when warming up to throw last Wednesday (Feb. 14). He experienced a slight grab off and on as he threw and said he felt the muscle tire. At the end of the day he went into the trainers room to have it checked out.

“They wanted to make sure everything was fine so they gave me treatment for a couple of days and the muscle was responding good, but slow,” he said. “Even though I was feeling better, there was some discomfort so they told me just stop. It’s early, you don’t need to rush. Let’s give the muscle some rest so it is 100 percent and you don’t have to worry. I’m glad I went to the trainer and got it checked out.”

The Mariners will take it slow with Ramirez as the goal is to have him for the majority of the season, not the first week. The schedule helps as the team will not need a fifth starter until mid-April.

Mariners interviews from spring training: Leake | Paxton | Altavilla