Mariners get 'great news' about Putz
Closer diagnosed with sprain, has time to prep for season
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners received "great news" on Saturday after their medical director reviewed the results of an MRI taken on right-hander J.J. Putz's right elbow.The diagnosis, made in Seattle by Dr. E. Edward Khalfayan, was a "mild flexor pronator strain." There was a huge sigh of relief on the Mariners' side of the Peoria Sports Complex, although Putz had expressed confidence on Friday that there was nothing seriously wrong and that he would have plenty of time to prepare himself for the regular season, which begins on April 2 at Safeco Field against the Athletics. Head trainer Rick Griffin, who received written permission from Putz to discuss the injury with the media, said that the pitcher would begin his rehab by playing catch on Tuesday and progress "as tolerated." "We're going to be smart about everything, but at the same time be aggressive and assertive. It will be a day-to-day process, depending on how he does," said Griffin. Griffin said that the injury is common among pitchers, especially in Spring Training, and usually goes away with rest. In fact, "two or three" other Seattle pitchers have experienced the same thing this spring. With Putz being such an important part of the team's fortunes this season, every precaution has been taken, including the MRI. "This is great news," Griffin said, "great news. It's scary any time you have an MRI because you never know what you're going to find. This result is good because [the strain] is on the way out. The inflammation is very mild." The flexor is the muscle that rotates the wrist and helps generate velocity. With two weeks remaining in Spring Training, it would seem that Putz has enough time to get ready for the regular season. "As long as we progress without any setbacks or bumps in the road, there's always a chance," Griffin said. "We're optimistic, and J.J. is optimistic."
Putz, wearing a dark half-sleeve over his elbow on Saturday, said that he wouldn't need much time to get himself ready.
"Once against hitters would be fine," Putz said. "It shouldn't take long."Manager Mike Hargrove also was elated.
"Any time you are looking at the possibility of losing your closer, a dominant closer, that's a huge blow," Hargrove said. "This is as good as [we] could have gotten."Putz, 30, replaced Eddie Guardado as the Mariners' closer last May 6, and finished with 36 saves in 43 chances. He led American League relievers with 104 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings, posting a 3-1 record and 34 saves in 57 appearances following his promotion to the closer role.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.