A couple of days ago Shawn Kelley seemed confident that it would only be a matter of time before he would return to the Mariners bullpen.
"Oh, yeah. I’m pretty close to being ready now," he said on Tuesday. "It’s just a matter of getting my arm strength back and being able to throw more than one inning, and being able to throw back to back days, things like that. That’s what we’re moving toward now."
Well, now he's taken a step back.
Kelley was supposed to pitch two innings in a rehab outing tonight in Everett, but he was scratched from that appearance after feeling stiffness in the elbow. Kelley threw one inning of relief on Monday in Tacoma, and was still feeling some residual soreness in the elbow.
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"It’s just been a little stiffer than normal lately, pretty much since Tacoma," Kelley said. "I’m just going to take it easy and not rush like we haven’t been. I threw yesterday. I just didn’t feel really good after."
Kelley was supposed to meet with Dr. Edward Khalfayan - the Mariners team physician - sometime today to have the elbow examined again. Then he will be re-evaluated.
But what about what he said on Tuesday?
"I was feeling okay," he said. "I was trying to be more optimistic. I expected to be a little sore the first day after. But yesterday I was still a little sore. It’s a little disappointing and a little frustrating because it was going pretty well for the most part. I’m tired of being on the DL. I want to pitch, but my elbow is telling me no right now. They want me to talk to the doctors and go from there."
Part of the reason for the concern and cautious recovery process is that Kelley has already undergone Tommy John surgery in the elbow in his career. While in college at Austin Peay, Kelley had his torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow repaired and missed an entire year.That history of elbow issues has made the Mariners careful not to rush him back to soon.
"I think so," Wakamatsu said of the past elbow problems. "We’ve been very cautious this time, progressing him slowly. Everything was on track, so to only throw one inning in one outing and have a setback is concerning."
It is to Kelley, who is very aware what is the difference between just typical soreness and something worse.
"I know when it’s not right," he said. "I’ve been through a lot of stuff with it. I’ve pitched through a lot of soreness and a lot of aches. It’s no big deal. It’s just what I’ve dealt with since the surgery. I was told that it was never going to feel the same after surgery, but I’ve got through it. I’ve always recovered. I’ve always been able to go out and pitch and be effective. Back in June when it happened, I wasn’t able to do that. I knew something was wrong. Something still isn’t 100 percent right now. So we are going to give it a few days."
Other injury news ...
Ryan Rowland-Smith will be joining the Tacoma Rainiers in Iowa (see below) and will make a rehab start on Saturday. He will be on a limit of 75 pitches.
Rowland-Smith just wants to get on the mound again in a game of any sort, since the last time he pitched it was a disaster.
"You always look for the day to get back out there and pitch again," he said. "That’s when it’s fun again to get out there and compete. This year the time between starts has just dragged on. When you have a good outing, the four days speed up quickly. When you don’t have one, the four days in between are tough. You want to get back out there. This year it snowballed on me mentally and emotionally. I’m looking forward to getting back and taking it game by game.”
Josh Bard (stiff neck) is feeling better and could play if needed tonight.
Minor League notes
- Elvis Andrus SS
- Michael Young 3B
- Josh Hamilton CF
- Vlad Guerrero DH
- Nelson Cruz RF
- David Murphy LF
- Bengie Molina C
- Mitch Moreland 1B
- Andres Blanco 2B
RHP Tommy Hunter (8-1, 3.31 ERA)
- Ichiro Suzuki RF
- Chone Figgins 2B
- Casey Kotchman 1B
- Russell Branyan DH
- Franklin Gutierrez CF
- Jose Lopez 3B
- Adam Moore C
- Michael Saunders LF
- Jack Wilson SS
RHP Felix Hernandez (7-8, 2.90 ERA)