Some details are now emerging regarding the examination Friday that determined Mariners ace Felix Hernandez is suffering from bursitis in his right shoulder.
In short: It could have been a lot worse.
The Mariners announced Hernandez is expected to miss three-to-four weeks due to bursitis in his shoulder, but multiple club officials suggest that is a conservative estimate.
Hernandez is already vowing to beat the timetable and return to the mound by mid-May
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"Actually, it’s fair to categorize the exams as encouraging for both he and Mitch (Haniger)," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "Not ideal, but better than expected."
Haniger suffered a grade 2 strained right oblique muscle in the same game, April 25 at Detroit, that Hernandez exited after just two innings due to an ailing shoulder.
The Mariners announced Friday that Haniger is also expected to miss three-to-four weeks. That, too, would be a quick return since strained oblique muscles typically sideline players for four-to-six weeks.
The injury is one that is easily aggravated by swinging a bat, though, so Haniger figures to be on a go-slow recovery program. Club officials acknowledge he is likely to require four weeks to recover.
Haniger’s injury represents a major blow to the lineup. He was the club’s best player prior to his injury and had already established himself as a strong early candidate to be the American League’s Rookie of the Year.
But Haniger is 26, and strained obliques are, generally, easily treatable albeit slow to heal. The greater concern last week centered on Hernandez in part because of his troubling reaction to the injury.
Hernandez was clearly upset the night the injury occurred and, in atypically brief comments to reporters, admitted he was worried. That set off all sorts of alarms within the Mariners’ organization and among their fans.
There’s not merely a lot of mileage on Hernandez’s shoulder; there’s a lot of stressful mileage from low-scoring games over the course of his 13-year career.
Hernandez has, for years, refuted rumors that the condition of his shoulder has deteriorated to the point where he runs the risk of suffering a major injury each time he starts.
His performance, generally, supports his view that he is battling nothing more than the normal wear-and-tear that every pitcher experienced. His nine-year streak of making at least 30 starts ended last season because of a calf injury.
Even so, a shoulder injury for any pitcher raises concerns, and that is particularly true regarding Hernandez. So it was easy for the Mariners to fear the worst last week when he left the mound.
The examination by Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the club’s medical director, proved reassuring.
While the Mariners didn’t release details, shoulder bursitis occurs when when the large bursa near the top of the shoulder becomes inflamed. It is typically caused by an impingement between the rotator-cuff tendons and the bone.
The remedy, generally, is rest.
ZERO AND STRANDED
Lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski has not only not allowed a run this season in 6 2/3 innings over 10 appearances; he also hasn’t permitted any of nine inherited runners to score.
"Zep goes about his business and knows how to prepare," manager Scott Servais said. "And when he takes the mound, he’s been attacking them. He’s been going right after them. He certainly trusts his stuff, and he’s had good results."
Right-hander Nick Vincent has also stranded each of his five inherited runners. He and Rzepczynski are among nine American League relievers who have inherited at least five runners without allowing any to score.
ALL IN THE FIRST
The Mariners’ 4-3 to the Indians on Saturday, in which all of the runs were scored in the first inning, was a statistical rarity.
It marked the first time since Sept. 12, 1993 that each team scored at least three runs in the first inning without any further scoring occurring in the game. On that day, Detroit posted a 6-3 victory over the White Sox in Chicago.
Three things to note heading into Tuesday’s pitching matchup between left-hander James Paxton and Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker:
***Paxton is 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels. Shoemaker is 4-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 13 career games against the Mariners, including 2-1 and 4.35 in five games at Safeco Field.
***Mike Trout is just 2-for-20 with 10 strikeouts in his career against Paxton. Kole Calhoun is 7-for-23 (.304), while Albert Pujols is 4-for-20 with a double and two homers.
***Nelson Cruz is 7-for-23 with two homers in his career against Shoemaker. Robinson Cano (6-for-22) and Kyle Seager (7-for-26) have also hit two homers against Shoemaker.
With first Danny Valencia and now Dan Vogelbach struggling, could the Mariners give a look to former first-round pick D.J. Peterson as a possibility at first base?
Peterson, 25, continued a recent surge by going 2-for-3 with a walk Saturday in Triple-A Tacoma’s 7-4 victory over Sacramento (Giants) at Cheney Stadium. He is 14-for-44 (.318) in his last 11 games with three homers and seven RBIs.
Its was 32 years ago Monday — May 1, 1985 — that right-hander Jim Beattie pitched a four-hitter in a 7-0 victory over Boston at the Kingdome. His shutout came one day after the birth of his first child.
Beattie was 43-72 with a 4.14 ERA in 163 games for the Mariners from 1980-86.
He returned to school after his career ended and got an MBA from Washington in 1989. He returned to the Mariners in 1990 as their player-development director. He left after the 1995 season to become general manager of the Montreal Expos.
The Mariners and Angels begin a three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field when lefty James Paxton (3-0 with a 1.39 ERA) opposes Los Angeles righty Matt Shoemaker (1-1, 4.73).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network, including mariners.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv).
The homestand concludes next weekend with three games against Texas.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners