Hultzen on the mend, plus other postseason news
Left-hander Danny Hultzen, who missed all of this past season following rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder, threw well in his third Instructional League outing in the last few weeks on Tuesday and now will be shut down until next spring, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said.
Hultzen, the second overall pick in the 2011 Draft, had major shoulder surgery exactly one year ago on Oct. 1 and spent all this season building his arm back up and rehabbing at the Mariners facility in Peoria, Ariz. He capped off that effort with a 25-pitch outing in a game against young prospects in front of many of the Mariners top baseball people and reports were positive.
“They said it was really impressive,” Zduriencik said. “He feels really good and is now shut down. He’s finished for the fall. He showed an average fastball, really good curve and changeup. He was confident and his delivery is sound. So he’ll go home and come back in January and be ready for Spring Training.”
Will the 24-year-old be full go at that point?
“He should be,” Zduriencik said. “We were real cautions. There was some talk of putting him in the Fall League, but we’re going to back off a little. This kid has been through a lot this year. The fact he’s been on the mound in Instructional League is enough. There’ll be a challenge for him next year regardless of how he reports physically, where is he going to be innings-wise after missing a whole year like this.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon is maintaining a conservative approach, knowing the youngsters threw just 35 2/3 innings in 2013 and then missed all of this season. But he’s encouraged by the news as well.
“I’m excited about him,” McClendon said. “And we’ll see going into spring. Listen, is he going to make this club next year? Probably not. But is he on his way back? Yeah. And that’s exciting because this young man is as good as any of them when he’s healthy. We just have to get him back to that point where he can go out and compete every five days.
“We’re not counting on him, no,” said McClendon. “But having said that, it’s going to be pretty exciting to see him out there on that mound, no question.”
Zduriencik and McClendon met with the media in a postseason wrapup session Tuesday and talked at length about their offseason plans and needs and a bigger budget to work with in 2015. I have a full story on that up now here on Mariners.com, which of course is where you can always go for your Mariners news.
In the meantime, here’s some other newsy nuggets to come out today:
— None of the club’s Major League players are expected to need any surgeries heading into the offseason, though outfielder Dustin Ackley will be seeing a specialist to determine what might be done to help his troublesome left ankle. McClendon said outfield coach Andy Van Slyke will be having surgery to repair a knee issue that forced him to the bench in the final months as Chris Woodward took over as first-base coach.
— Left-hander Roenis Elias is doing fine after being shut down late in the season with some elbow soreness. He’ll spend the offseason at his home in Texas and do the normal offseason throwing program before reporting to camp next spring.
— Taijuan Walker will pitch a few games in the Arizona Fall League, but James Paxton won’t throw competitively this offseason after returning for the season’s final two months, Zduriencik said.
— McClendon said his entire coaching staff will be returning next year. John Stearns, who stepped down as third-base coach just prior to the start of Spring Training after having hiatal hernia surgery, will remain in the organization in a scouting role, according to Zduriencik.
— Butch Baccala, the national cross checker involved in the Jesus Montero incident in September, has been dismissed by the club. Devitt Moore, who was working as an area scout for the Mariners this season, will be promoted to take Baccala’s position.
— Montero returned to the Mariners 40-man roster on Monday as he was taken off the suspended list. Zduriencik said he’ll spend the offseason in Arizona with his wife and child.
“He’s there now going through a program that should help him in many areas, on the field and off,” Zduriencik said. “He’ll be at the complex every day. He’s working out twice a day right now and will be under our supervision most of the winter. Hopefully the negative here turns out to be a positive.”
Zduriencik said about 10 young Mariners will likely play Winter Ball in Venezuela. He doesn’t expect Montero to be one of those at this time, “but let’s wait and see. There’s other issues we need to deal with there first.
— Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who spent the past year on the Mariners restricted list, has expressed some interest in returning.
“He’s in Florida, working out. He has some interest in coming back next year. We’re going to talk to him and we’ll see what happens,” Zduriencik said. “He left in a good frame of mind. We’ll have to see where it’s at, but he’s spoken to our guys more than once about his desire in coming back next year. It would be as a non-roster player.”