The Mariners could use a Felix-type performance tonight from Felix Hernandez against the Angels after a rough Tuesday that saw lefty James Paxton shut down because of a shoulder problem and Roenis Elias struggle early in a 6-4 loss at Safeco Field.
Paxton underwent an MRI exam after reporting triceps soreness following his rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Tacoma. It revealed inflammation in his shoulder, which represents an undeniable setback in his efforts to return to the rotation after suffering a strained back muscle in an April 8 start.
The immediate treatment includes no throwing until the inflammation subsides, which club officials are hoping means five-to-seven days. Thereafter, he'll need to build up again. That likely means at least one rehab start (maybe more). So don't look for him to return to the rotation, even in a best-case scenario, before mid-June.
A couple of points.
Shoulder inflammation is common in pitchers. It's usually cured by rest and treatment. It's a good bet this is nothing more than a minor setback. But it's not a sure bet. Paxton is a pitcher who isn't pitching because of a shoulder problem. Until he returns to the mound, with no problems, there's reason for concern.
Other injury updates
The news regarding Paxton overshadowed the Mariners' announcement that hard-throwing reliever Stephen Pryor is also experiencing a setback in his effort to get back on track from a similar (but more extensive) injury.
Paxton's original injury was a strained left latissimus dorsi muscle. Pryor missed nearly all of last season with a torn right lat. Pryor has been getting rocked in the minors: 16 runs on 20 hits and 16 walks in 18 innings. An exam revealed he has a shoulder impingement.
The Mariners placed Pryor on the minor-league disabled list, which is a seven-day list. Club officials are hoping that will be sufficient to allow him to return to the mound.
***Tacoma shortstop Chris Taylor was about to be promoted to the big leagues when he recently suffered a broken baby finger on a slide. That injury is healing slower than expected. Our Christian Caple has the details in his report on the Rainiers' 6-1 loss to Salt Lake.
***Right-hander Taijuan Walker is slotted for 70-75 pitches tonight in a rehab start for Tacoma against Salt Lake. It's his first game action since a recurrence of shoulder soreness in mid-April during a previous rehab assignment. He says he "feels great" and, if all goes well, could be ready to rejoin the big-league rotation as soon as next week.
Just remember: Paxton was feeling great before his rehab start.
The Mariners should confirm a minor-league deal with veteran outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady, perhaps as soon as today. He is expected to report, initially anyway, to Tacoma.
It's a virtual no-risk move.
If Nady shows anything, he'll be promoted to the big leagues. And if, as hoped, he provides some right-handed punch, great. If not, the Mariners will move on.
It's a long shot. San Diego designated Nady, 35, for assignment after he managed just five hits in 37 at-bats over 22 games. He hasn't been a reasonably productive big-league player since 2011.
But the Mariners aren't getting much from Cole Gillespie or Stefen Romero. Corey Hart is out, probably, for at least another month because of a strained hamstring. And with Logan Morrison, a left-handed hitter, on a rehab assignment, the Mariners have no real backup at first for Justin Smoak.
Willie Bloomquist has been taking grounders at first as a hedge against something happening to Smoak.
The Angels took command of Tuesday game by scoring three runs in the second inning against Elias — and did so with four line-drive doubles. Elias steadied thereafter and pitched effectively into the seventh.
"Nothing," Elias said afterward through an interpreter. "They just hit the ball well that inning. There were a few pitches that were a little high, but there’s nothing you can do about it now."
So nothing changed after that inning?
"There weren’t any changes," he said. "It’s just baseball. Sometimes, it’s the pitcher’s day. Sometimes, it’s the hitters’ day. There’s nothing you can do about it now."
***Rookie reliever Dominic Leone pitched two-thirds of an inning without allowing a run after replacing Elias in the seventh. Leone lowered his ERA to 1.29 and has not allowed a run in his last 8 1/3 innings over seven appearances. He also had 11 strikeouts in that span.
***Nick Franklin started at second base when Robinson Cano drew duty as the designated hitter. Franklin made two sparkling defensive plays and ended an 0-for-11 skid by getting two singles in four at-bats.
***Cano went 2-for-4 and now has 13 multi-hit games in May. His average is up to .333, which ranks second in the American League to the .341 by Detroit DH Victor Martinez. The Tigers come this weekend to Safeco for three games.
***The Mariners are scheduled to face All-Stars Justin Verlander (Friday) and Max Scherzer (Sunday) while the Tigers are in town. Drew Smyly is scheduled to start Saturday's game.
Around the farms
***Triple-A Tacoma remains in a funk after a 6-1 loss to Salt Lake (Angels). Jordan Pries got roughed up after a series of strong starts. From our Christian Caple.
***Double-A Jackson got a two-out homer in the 12th from Dan Paolini in a 5-4 victory at Mobile (Diamondbacks). From the Jackson Sun.
***Hi-A High Desert got home runs from Tyler Smith, Burt Reynolds and D.J. Peterson — and needed it all in rallying for a 5-4 victory over Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers). From the Victorville Daily Press.
***Lo-A Clinton split a doubleheader with Wisconsin (Brewers). From the LumberKings' website.