Club officials aren't just taking a cautious approach with Taijuan Walker. The same goes for All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who is scheduled to throw Saturday from a bullpen mound in his ongoing recovery from a finger injury.
“His first bullpen session (Wednesday) went very well,” Lloyd McClendon said, “(but) he’s a couple of bullpen sessions away (from facing hitters). We’ve got to build the pitches up before we get him out there doing that.”
That suggests Iwakuma is at least 10 days away from departing on a minor-league rehab assignment. He was diagnosed in early February as having a strained ligament in his middle finger.
Iwakuma reports to problems with his finger since starting his throwing program, but Saturday offers a test: He is expected to throw split-finger fastballs, his best pitch, for the time.
Plans call for lefty James Paxton not to throw for at least a week after getting a platelet rich plasma injection to treat his strained back muscle (technically, a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle).
Paxton suffered the injury in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the Angels in the Mariners’ home opener at Safeco Field.
PRP injections seek to stimulate healing of bone and soft tissue.
Paxton won his two starts this season and has the best ERA in club history through his first six career starts at 1.75 ERA. The record previously belonged the Felix Hernandez at 1.84 for six starts in 2005.
Hernandez was 2-2 in those games while allowing nine earned runs and 27 hits in 44 innings. He also had 45 strikeouts and nine walks. Paxton went 5-0 with seven earned runs and 21 hits in 36 innings, plus 34 strikeouts and nine walks.
Paid to protect
Few players are more familiar than Corey Hart with the role of providing lineup protection for one of the game’s top hitters — as he is currently as to do for Robinson Cano.
“That’s kind of been there my whole career,” said Hart, who had two homers and four RBIs in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the Angels. “I’ve been behind (Prince) Fielder and (Ryan) Braun and (before that) Carlos Lee.
“I wasn’t always right behind them, but I was the guy behind the other guy.
That’s where Hart typically bats now; behind Justin Smoak, who bats behind Cano.
“I’m used to it,” Hart said. “It gives us more opportunities with guys on base. If you want to drive in guys, it’s a fun place to be.”
Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf, who departed the Mariners in late spring over a contract spat, agreed to terms with Arizona on a minor-league deal and is slotted to start Monday for Triple-A Reno.
Wolf, 37, won the final spot in the Mariners’ rotation after compiling a 4.26 ERA in five starts as a non-roster invite but balked at the club’s request that he agree to a 45-day release waiver. He was subsequently released.
Minor details I
Right-hander Brandon Maurer is slotted to shift to the rotation at Triple-A Tacoma after making three relief appearances due to limited endurance following a spring spent battling sore back.
“I think the ideal thing now is to get him into rotation,” McClendon said, “and start to get him built up as well. He just didn’t have the innings in spring training.”
Maurer threw 55 pitches and struck out nine in just 3 1/3 innings Thursday in a 5-2 loss to El Paso (Padres).
Minor details II
Reliever Stephen Pryor produced his first positive outing Thursday in his minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A Jackson in his ongoing recovery from a torn back muscle.
Pryor required just eight pitches to record a scoreless inning in a 3-2 loss to Mississippi (Braves). He permitted six on four hits and three walks over 1 2/3 innings in two previous outings.
It was 24 years ago Friday — April 11, 1990 — that Mariners suffered the first of three no-hitters in their history in a 1-0 loss at California.
Ex-Mariner Mark Langston worked the first seven innings before Mike Witt completed the gem. Mariners starter Erik Hanson pitched five shutout innings before Gary Eave surrendered a base-loaded walk in the seventh.
The two other no-hitters against the Mariners were complete games.
Yankees right-hander Dwight Gooden in a 2-0 victory on May 14, 1996 in New York; and a perfect game by Philip Humber of the White Sox in a 4-0 victory on April 21, 2012 at Safeco Field,
The Mariners and A’s continue their three-game weekend series at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (1-1 with a 5.73 ERA) will start against Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray (1-0, 0.75).
The two hooked up last Sunday in Oakland, when Gray permitted one earned run in six innings in the A’s 6-3 victory. Ramirez allowed five runs and seven hits in four-plus innings.