It’s been five weeks since Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez walked off the mound in Detroit because of a shoulder ailment later diagnosed as bursitis.
He’s now ready to face hitters again — albeit under controlled conditions.
Hernandez threw a 30-pitch bullpen workout prior to Tuesday’s game against Colorado at Coors Field and, barring a setback, should throw a simulated game by the weekend.
"He was good," pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. said, "and he threw everything. Good intensity at the end. It was good to see.
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"We’ll probably do a sim game (next). That way, we can lay our eyes on him. Probably get him a couple of innings in a sim game, and then he’s going to have to go out and pitch."
Hernandez is likely to need at least two rehab starts to build his endurance, both in his pitch count and in his recovery in the up-down cycle of pitching, resting and pitching again.
Such a timetable points to a mid-June return from the disabled list.
***Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma also threw a 30-pitch bullpen workout Tuesday and showed marked improvement over a 25-pitch session last Saturday in Boston.
Iwakuma hasn’t pitched since May 3 because of shoulder inflammation.
"I really was surprised to see what I saw with how the ball was coming out," Stottlemyre said, "based on how he felt last time. He labored through his (bullpen workout) last time. I was unsure of how it was going to be, but it was good.
"He bumped the intensity up. The plan for him is to do another bullpen and bump up the intensity a little more. Throw all of the pitches and make sure he’s OK the next day. Then we can move him to a sim game."
That puts Iwakuma’s recovery timetable, barring setbacks, roughly one week behind Hernandez.
***Outfielder Mitch Haniger, out since April 25 because of a strained right oblique, is amping up his workout again after last week’s setback.
Manager Scott Servais said Haniger hit off a tee and in the indoor batting cages Tuesday with tentative plans to take part Thursday or Friday — probably Friday — in regular pre-game batting practice.
"He’s been saying that when he gets three or four days out on the field," Servais said, "he can get out on a rehab (assignment) to work on his timing."
In a best-case scenario, Haniger could return to active duty by the end of the upcoming 11-game homestand. A mid-June return appears more realistic.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners