Lots of health updates out of Mariners camp

Hart, CoreyThings are progressing on a couple health fronts for the Mariners, as manager Lloyd McClendon has Corey Hart back in the lineup for tonight’s 6:40 p.m. game against the Rockies at first base after the big man had missed the last five days with a stiff back and sore forearm.

The good news there is Hart’s knees have held up fine, which was the big question this spring after he sat out all of last year with the Brewers following a pair of microfracture surgeries.

“His legs are fine. It’s his back that has been bothering him, but that seems to have cleared up,” McClendon said. “He hasn’t had any problems out of the knees.”

McClendon knocked on his wood desk at that point. And he’s hoping for a couple knocks from Hart in tonight’s game as well as he’s hit just .111 (2-for-16) so far while getting his timing back following his long layoff from game action.

“I think he’s coming along fine,” McClendon said. “He probably tried to do a little too much early. We looked at some film and made some adjustments. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a real good day today. We’ll see how it goes, but I think  you’ll see him swing a little better today.”

In other health news, reliever Stephen Pryor will throw live batting practice today, which is another step forward for the hard-throwing right-hander as he returns from surgery to repair the lat muscle behind his throwing shoulder.

“He threw a simulated last week and that went well,” McClendon said. “We’ll see how it goes. He’s progressing well. He’s throwing under control. It’s firm. He feels real good about where he is. We just have to stay with the program.”

And that holds true for the Mariners’ two injured starters as well. Taijuan Walker felt good on Friday after his initial bullpen session the day before as he returns from an inflamed shoulder that shut him down completely for a week.

Walker will throw long toss again today and Saturday, then another bullpen on Sunday.

“He’s frustrated. He wants to move faster,” McClendon said. “But he’ll stay with the program.”

As for Hisashi Iwakuma? Last year’s ace hasn’t thrown a pitch yet this spring after spraining the tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand right before camp opened after catching it in a net while jumping to field a ball over his head during a pitching drill.

Iwakuma will see the doctor on Tuesday for more tests and the Mariners have their fingers crossed. If all goes well, Iwakuma could be told that the splint on his finger can come off and he can begin gripping a ball and throwing again, which would allow him to start rebuilding his arm strength.

“Hopefully we’ll have good news on Monday,” McClendon said.

Neither Walker nor Iwakuma will be ready for the start of the regular season, which is now just 17 days away. But if all goes well, they both could return sometime in April and only miss a couple starts each.

McClendon hasn’t posted a lineup yet for tonight, but did say that Robinson Cano will not play after starting the last four in a row.

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