Stephen Pryor was all smiles Monday in the Seattle Mariners’ clubhouse.
Why? Because he was finally free.
Not free from the Mariners, but free from the sling that his right arm had been locked into for the past six weeks. He got the clearance Friday.
“It feels awesome,” the Mariners reliever said.
Pryor had surgery to repair a torn muscle below his throwing shoulder. The recovery required the arm to be immobilized in the sling for over a month and a half. That meant the only time it could come out was for bathing. The rest of the time it was locked into place, including at night.
“Sleeping was hard,” he said. “I kind of laid in bed on my back. It was awkward and hard to get comfortable.”
Now that he is without the sling, Pryor will slowly strengthen his arm with physical therapy.
“I haven’t done much, but I can tell that it’s weak,” he said.
Pryor’s noticeably thinner having lost 10 pounds off his sturdy frame.
“I lost a bunch of muscle,” he said.
The process of strengthening is lengthy. Pryor won’t pick up a baseball for quite a while.
“I’m hoping to start playing catch in (the middle) or end of January and come into camp already throwing,” Pryor said. “Hopefully I will be able to start the year with the team.”
And what has he done with the sling?
“I still have it,” he said. “I didn’t get rid of it. I should. I never want to see that thing again.”
SAUNDERS SHUT DOWN
Unless something drastic happens in the final six games of the season, Joe Saunders made his final start for the Seattle Mariners this season Saturday night in Anaheim.
He took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits through seven innings.
“Yeah, as of right now, that’s what we are looking at,” manager Eric Wedge said, when asked if Saunders was done for the year. “It’s always subject to change.”
It’s a merciful end to a frustrating season for Saunders. He posted an 11-16 record in 32 starts with a 5.26 ERA. The ERA was a career high.
“It’s just been a tough season,” Saunders said. “It’s been really frustrating. I’ve never had anything like this.”
The Mariners have yet to name a starter for Saturday afternoon’s game against Oakland. The hope is that Erasmo Ramirez, who left his start Friday night with groin stiffness, will be healthy and ready to start.
If not, Brandon Maurer, who started Monday night against the Royals, would start.
Saunders may have thrown his last pitch of the season, but has he thrown his last pitch as a Mariner?
He signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with Seattle just before spring training. The deal includes a mutual option for next season, meaning both the Mariners and Saunders would have to agree on having him come back. Despite his struggles, Saunders never missed a start and pitched 183 innings. It will be interesting to see what the Mariners or Saunders decide to do going forward.
Brad Miller was back in the starting lineup and batting leadoff for the Mariners on Monday. He hasn’t started a game since Sept. 14 when he suffered a mild hamstring strain against the St. Louis Cardinals. He made an appearance as a pinch hitter on Saturday in Anaheim and singled. “He wanted to play yesterday and he probably could have, but we wanted to give him an extra day,” Wedge said. “To get him back in there is a good thing for him and us. I threw him right back at the top of the lineup. We’ll just take it day by day and see how he’s feeling.” ... Raul Ibañez was back in the starting lineup as well after sitting out Sunday’s game. With 29 home runs this season, Wedge is going to give Ibañez every chance to hit his 30th. It would be a record for most home runs in a season by a player over the age of 40. Ibañez matched the record of 29 held by Ted Williams with a solo home run Saturday night. ... The Mariners are 19-28 in one-run games this season, including going 10-20 on the road.
Left-hander James Paxton (2-0, 2.12 ERA) will get the start for the Mariners while the Royals will go with veteran lefty Bruce Chen (8-3, 3.13 ERA). First pitch is 7:10 p.m. and will be broadcast on Root Sports, 710-AM and 1030-AM.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish