RHP Taijuan Walker, considered the top prospect in the Seattle organization, could be on his way back after struggling with shoulder soreness. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday, and if all goes well, he could start a rehab stint in the near future. The Mariners are being extremely careful with the 21-year-old phenom, who was on a strict innings limit last season and has yet to make a start this year as he battles tenderness in his pitching shoulder.
RHP Hisashi Iwakuma made his second start of the season Thursday, and he looked to be in midseason form. Coming back from a finger injury that cost him all of spring training and the month of April, Iwakuma threw eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over the Royals. He allowed just four hits without issuing a walk, and he struck out seven. "Today I was close to 100 percent," Iwakuma said. "As the game got deeper, I was able to command all of my pitches."
LHP James Paxton, on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained lat muscle, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday. It is a step in the right direction for the 25-year-old southpaw, who is one of the organization's top prospects. The Mariners' rotation has survived without several key members thus far, but Seattle is eager to get the youngster back.
RHP Brandon Maurer is looking to bounce back after rough outings in his past two starts. Since a promising starting debut, he has allowed nine earned runs over 8 2/3 innings in two starts. Maurer probably will be in the Mariners' bullpen or at Triple-A Tacoma when the Seattle rotation gets healthy, but for now it looks as if he probably will have at least two more starts -- including Friday's scheduled outing against Kansas City -- unless he really struggles the next time out.
SS Brad Miller was thankful to end a dubious streak of four consecutive games with an error Thursday night, but that was about the only good thing that happened to him. Miller went 0-for-3 to drop his season batting average to .173. With 2B/SS Nick Franklin continuing to hit the ball well at Triple-A Tacoma, Miller might be looking over his shoulder soon.
DH Corey Hart made the Royals pay for intentionally walking 2B Robinson Cano ahead of him in the third inning Thursday. After Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy walked Cano with two outs and a runner on third base, the right-handed-hitting Hart singled home the only run of the game. Hart said he wasn't overly satisfied to get a hit after seeing the batter in front of him walked intentionally, but he did admit gaining some satisfaction from driving in a run against his former manager: ex-Brewers skipper Ned Yost, now with the Royals.
RHP Erasmo Ramirez was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, one day after he was called up for a spot start during a doubleheader at Oakland. He allowed just two runs and six hits over six innings in a 2-0 loss to the A's, leaving him 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA in six starts for Seattle this year.
1B/OF Logan Morrison (hamstring) is still not ready to go, manager Lloyd McClendon said before Thursday's game. Morrison re-injured his hamstring while running on the side, and the timetable for his return is up in the air.