Mariners right-hander Kendall Graveman revealed on Monday that he has been diagnosed with a benign bone tumor in the C6 part of his cervical spine.
The tumor can't grow any more or get worse with his pitching motion, Graveman said after pitching a rehab game at the team's alternate site. There is a surgical procedure to address the tumor, but Graveman said he won't have that until sometime in the future. Graveman has been dealing with the problem for two years, but medication has helped him throw on the mound, but the whole process is trial and error. Graveman was emotional when he talked about the injury.
“I've seen plenty of specialists. I've seen numerous doctors. There is a procedure that is a possibility,” Graveman said. “Maybe something that, later on down the road, we'll check into, but ... going out there [and] competing with it is the only thing right now that we can do, and [I'll] continue to work through it. So the prayer and the hope is that doctors tell me that this thing goes away with time. That's kind of where we're at right now with it.”
Graveman, 29, has been out since the beginning of August with what the Mariners originally called neck spasms. Graveman was 0-2 with a 8.31 ERA and 10 strikeouts in two starts this season.
“This is just me being honest and open, but I'm not here to hide anything. That's what we're dealing with,” Graveman said. "And I just continue to hope that there is relief in the future and continue to pitch and pitch through [it]. They say it can't get any worse. It doesn't grow. It doesn't spread. So, right now, medically, that's what I'm dealing with.”
Graveman said he plans to make one more rehab start on regular rest in an intrasquad game and then rejoin the Mariners. Mariners manager Scott Servais said he wants to talk to the training staff before deciding the best course of action for Graveman.
“I’m excited to get him back. I certainly understand he is trying to grind through it. It says a lot about the person that he is. He loves pitching,” Servais said. “I know he has looked at different options. He wants to put this behind him. Obviously, it’s a very sensitive area. It’s his call. I don’t think it’s going to get a lot worse. We miss him around our club and his ability to get people out. … Let’s see how he is feeling tomorrow.”
The Mariners signed Graveman to a one-year, $1.5 million contract as a free agent in November. Graveman missed all of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, going 23-29 with a 4.38 ERA for the Blue Jays and A's in his first five big league seasons from 2014-18.