PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners have yet to have an official workout for their 2018 spring training, and they already are dealing with an unexpected injury to their projected starting first baseman.
Manager Scott Servais confirmed Wednesday that Ryon Healy has been bothered by a nagging hand injury and his status going into spring training is unknown.
“I don’t have an update,” Servais said. “I know he’s getting some more tests done today, and we should know more here shortly what the results of those tests are.”
The injury didn’t stem from any particular instance. It was a usage injury that came on during offseason workouts.
“He had an issue that came up early in the offseason when he first started working out and hitting,” Servais said. “We thought it wasn’t that big of a deal, and we shut him down for a while. When he came back after the time off, he felt it again. We’ve ramped it up and had him take some more serious tests to find out what the problem is, but I don’t know exactly what it is.”
Servais has spoken with Healy about the injury.
“It’s something he’s never had before,” he said. “It’s a new thing.”
Acquired from the Oakland A’s in the offseason for reliever Emilio Pagan and minor-leaguer Alexander Campos, Healy was slated to be the Mariners’ everyday first baseman. A year ago, he hit .271 with a .753 on-base plus slugging percentage, 29 doubles, 25 home runs and 78 RBIs with Oakland.
“Any time with any of our guys, you are concerned,” Servais said. “We like Ryon Healy. He’s a great fit for our club, it’s a great for him. We just have to wait and see.”
Besides the other tests, Healy was scheduled to undergo a physical Wednesday with the Mariners pitchers and catchers that were reporting. The Mariners likely will have an update in the coming days.
If Healy isn’t ready for the start of the season or is expected to be out an extended period, the Mariners have only two other first basemen on their 40-man roster.
Daniel Vogelbach, who played himself out of an opening-day roster spot last spring and spent almost the entire 2017 season in Triple-A Tacoma, would be an option. Mike Ford, who the Mariners took in the Rule 5 draft from the Yankees, is the other first baseman.
Concerns about Vogelbach’s ability to handle the defensive responsibilities at first base on an everyday basis in the big leagues linger within the organization.
Ford, 25, split the 2017 season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, hitting .270 (116 for 429) with a .404 on-base percentage, a .471 slugging percentage, 24 doubles, a triple, 20 home runs and 86s RBI in 126 games. Ford walked more times (94) than he struck out (72). He was named to the Eastern League midseason All-Star team while playing for Trenton and was named a Yankees organization All-Star by MiLB.com. But he’s never played in a big-league game.
Another in-house emergency option could be outfielder Cameron Perkins, who was claimed off waivers in the offseason. Perkins has played about 40-plus games at first base. But it seems unlikely they would force him into that role.
Seattle could also go out on the free-agent market and pick up a stopgap on a one-year contract with a player such as Lucas Duda, who has plenty of experience. Former Mariner Logan Morrison is also available but is seeking at least a two-year commitment. Another former Mariner, Danny Valencia, seems unlikely to return.
Other injury updates
Outfielder Guillermo Heredia (offseason shoulder surgery) is ahead of schedule in his recovery. Heredia is in Arizona and has been at the complex the past few days working out.
“He’s farther along than was anticipated at this point,” Servais said. “He’s been hitting off the tee and doing soft toss, and we’ll know more after his physical if he gets the thumbs up to slide into a group and go. He’s worked his tail off. He looks great, as I anticipated. That’s just how he’s wired. He’s not as far off as I thought he would be based on what I’m hearing and what I’ve seen.”
That gives Heredia a chance to be ready on opening day, something that wasn’t expected two weeks ago.
Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (offseason shoulder surgery) is building strength in his shoulder. He has not thrown off a mound.
“Hopefully, he’s throwing bullpens by the first of March or within a five- to seven-day window from that and build him up from there,” Servais said.
Servais said Iwakuma has noticeably trimmed down in an effort to regain some flexibility in his body and range of motion in the shoulder.
“He feels stronger,” Servais said.
Reliever Tony Zych will be behind in his throwing program this spring. Zych ended last season on the disabled list because of a flexor-bundle strain. That inflammation lingered into the offseason. He met with doctors that advised him to work back slowly.
“He is throwing bullpens, and he will jump in with a group, but we might give him a couple extra bullpens and extra live (batting practices) before he pitches in a game to make sure he’s 100 percent,” Servais said. “Strength-wise, he’s good. He’s thrown two bullpens. He’s just behind.”
Typically, the Mariners want pitchers to have thrown four bullpen sessions before arriving to spring training as part of their offseason program.
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