By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – If Taijaun Walker is nervous about the shoulder soreness he has been experiencing, he is not showing it.
"It definitely sucks but I feel good about the situation," he told the media after Friday's workout. "I would just rather not push it, try to fight through something and make it feel worse. I would rather just take the time off and just get it healthy first and then move on."
According to head trainer Rick Griffin, Walker first experienced inflammation in the shoulder in December. He had worked through that and was progressing in camp, having thrown three days in a row this week, but his progress wasn't to the point where Griffin wanted to put him back on the mound. The decision was made to have the shoulder further checked out.
Taijuan Walker won't throw for at least five days after being diagnosed with inflammation in his shoulder. (AP)
The second opinion came from the noted Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. The MRIs that came back clean and a talk with shoulder specialist Dr. James Andrews reassured Walker.
"Definitely a lot of encouragement, he said. "They are saying everything looks good, just a little inflamed. Put me on anti-inflammatories and in seven days should be good to go."
Griffin says there is good reason to believe the diagnosis is correct and that they are not dealing with anything more serious.
"We just have to trust the people who look at him and we have got two good pretty good orthopedists who have reviewed his MRI and examined him and talked to him and reassured him and feel like this is the best thing to do," he said. "There are always naysayers and you are worrying about things, but I think more times than not these guys are right on the ball and they get things the way they are supposed to be and we are very confident he is going to progress once he starts throwing again."
As for Walker's confidence in the diagnosis?
"I am 100 percent," he said. "I was throwing, everything felt fine. Just a little inflammation, soreness."
Walker had never experienced inflammation in the front of the shoulder before this but did experience inflammation in the back of the shoulder in 2012. He recovered with no problems and Griffin expects the same this time. The Mariners will take it slow with him, however.
"We will start slow and make sure he can repeat his throwing motion," Griffin said. "He will go out and play catch several days then progress into long-toss program and then he will start throwing his bullpens. Once he starts throwing his bullpens he will go quickly, but up until that point we will be cautious with him."
Walker is not concerned about a timeline.
"Take it day by day, not worry about the start of the season, get healthy first," he said.
Iwakuma to see hand specialist
We could have a better idea of when Hisashi Iwakuma could return by the end of the day. He was scheduled to see hand specialist Dr. Sheridan at noon in Phoenix. He is hoping to get cleared to start throwing again. If he does, he would be about a week ahead of schedule so that might be a bit more optimistic thinking on his part, but we shall see.
Iwakuma has been doing everything but throwing in this camp. He has continued his core, strength and conditioning routines and also thrown ghost bullpens, going through the motions of pitching without the ball, often with a towel. He is taking these sessions very seriously and threw a 40-pitch bullpen a couple of days ago.
"He worked on his mechanics, balance and follow-through. He has even tried to concentrate on inner half of the plate, outer half of plate," Griffin said.
Once Iwakuma is cleared to throw, Griffin estimates that he will go through a throwing program that lasts about 10 days. If all goes well he then will be allowed to throw a bullpen. Once he is throwing bullpens we should have a good idea of a possible return date.
Closer getting closer
Fernando Rodney threw his first bullpen of the spring Friday. He threw all of his pitches and liked what he saw and felt in the 30-pitch session. He is expecting to throw to hitters on Monday and could make his Cactus League debut shortly after that.
Yes, there is a game Friday. The Mariners will take on the Padres in a game that can be heard at 12:05 on 710 ESPN Seattle and 710Sports.com.
Endy Chavez, 8
Nick Franklin, 6
Ty Kelly, 4
Corey Hart, DH
Jesus Montero, 3
Michael Saunders, 9
Stefen Romero, 7
John Buck, 2
Willie Bloomquist, 5
James Paxton gets the start and is scheduled to throw two innings. Yoervis Medina, Charlie Furbush, Ramon Ramirez, Nick Hill, Dominic Leone, Zach Miner and Carson Smith all could get an inning as well.