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February 13, 2014 at 7:40 AM

A few morning notes before the first pitchers and catchers workout — Taijuan Walker has mild shoulder soreness

Yesterday, the Mariners announced that Hisashi Iwakuma was out four to six weeks with a strained tendon in his middle finger of his pitching hand. This morning manager Lloyd McClendon mentioned that Taijuan Walker has some mild soreness in his shoulder that has put him slightly behind.

Of course, this will lead to a fair amount of panic, which is understandable. But McClendon didn’t seem too concerned.

“It’s nothing major,” McClendon said. “He had a little soreness. He’s stretching out and feeling good. He’s probably a few days behind as far as his bullpens go. He should be fine.”

Walker was getting some electronic stimulation on the front of his shoulder yesterday when I talked with him briefly. He shrugged off the soreness, saying it was normal this early in the spring.

“I’m fine,” he said. “I got it checked out. I’m just taking it a little bit slower than everyone else. I’m still playing catch and everything. It’s not like they’ve shut me down. I just get some extra treatment. This is just normal soreness.”

Obviously, the concern is that this will turn into a Danny Hultzen situation. But this is different. Hultzen had the issue during the season after throwing all spring and that was a strain to the rotator cuff. This is soreness. Also if the Mariners thought this was anything worse, they would should down Walker completely. They haven’t done that.

In other injury news that won’t register quite the panic, Hector Noesi will also be limited in the early days of camp while he recovers from a sprained ankle.

Update 10:09 a.m. – The Mariners officially announced the signings of lefty Randy  Wolf and righty Zach Miner to minor league contracts with invites to spring training. They will both be on the field today.

Ken Rosenthal has the contract details for the 37-year-old Wolf which are heavily incentive laden as both a reliever and a starter. From Rosenthal:

Wolf gets $1 million if he makes the team out spring and …

  • 60 days on the roster — $250,000
  • 95 innings pitched– $150,000
  • 110 innings pitched — $150,000
  • 125 innings pitched — $125,000
  • 15, 18, 20 starts — $150,000 each
  • 30 starts — $250,000
  • 25  and 30 relief apperances — $25,000 each
  • 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60  relief appearances — $50,000 each.

The Mariners haven’t announced the Fernando Rodney signing or the Randy Wolf or Zach Miller, even though all three have lockers in the clubhouse and Rodney and Wolf were there getting ready to work out. Why? The Mariners are waiting the result from blood tests from their signing physicals, which can take up to 24-48 hours.

McClendon wouldn’t comment on Rodney specifically until it is announced. But he would talk about the need for a decent closer that you can rely on. McClendon got to see first hand the misadventures of Jose Valverde when he was with the Tigers.

“We blew 23 saves and I believe we had another 18 or 19 games we lost in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings and 15 extra inning games, so we need to improve in those areas,” he said. “You better have someone in the back end. When you talk about about wins and losses, the toughest loss for any team are those games you know you should have won in the ninth inning Those are gut wrenching and define your character so to speak. We are all going to get our butts kicked from time to time in blowout game and that’s ok. But when you lose those games that you should have won – those are tough. So you want to build from the back end (of the bullpen) and make sure you are solid back there.”

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