PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nick Hagadone has come a long way from the day in Mahoning Valley, Ohio, in July 2015, when, as he describes it, his elbow "basically exploded."The left-handed reliever, who grew up in Sumner, Wash., and pitched at the University of Washington, is now in Spring Training with
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nick Hagadone has come a long way from the day in Mahoning Valley, Ohio, in July 2015, when, as he describes it, his elbow "basically exploded."
The left-handed reliever, who grew up in Sumner, Wash., and pitched at the University of Washington, is now in Spring Training with the team he grew up loving, his hometown Mariners. He still has a long way to go to get back to being an effective option out of the bullpen like he was from 2011-15 with the Indians.
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Hagadone, who is trying to come back from a pitching elbow that was reconstructed by Tommy John surgery in 2008, has suffered two fractures since then -- the latest on that day in Ohio when, while rehabbing in a Class A game, he threw a pitch and heard the unmistakable pop that comes with what doctors call an avulsion fracture to the medial epicondyle (bone at the tip of the elbow).
But he's healthy now. And he's not giving up his dream of pitching for Seattle.
"I always hoped that it would eventually work out," Hagadone, now 31, said of signing a Minor League deal with a non-roster invite to Spring Training. "When I had the chance to sign with the Mariners, I kind of jumped at it. It's pretty exciting."
Hagadone could be pretty exciting, too.
While with Cleveland, he regularly topped 95 mph with a heavy fastball and put batters away with a plus curveball. He has 122 strikeouts in 118 1/3 Major League innings and was particularly effective in his last fully healthy season, 2014, when he compiled a 2.70 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings over 35 games.
And so far this spring, Hagadone has been interesting. His fastball has been more in the 90-91 mph range, but he has pitched five shutout innings over five Cactus League games and has given up only two hits while striking out seven and walking one. On Thursday against the Royals, he finished off the game with a perfect inning, including two consecutive strikeouts to close it out.
"For a guy we signed late in the process, kind of just to take a look, he's done fine," manager Scott Servais said. "He appears to be healthy. I know it's not the big fastball he's had in the past, but it's certainly enough. He is having a good spring."
Hagadone still isn't pitching on back-to-back days, and it looks like he'll begin the season with Triple-A Tacoma. But as a veteran with Major League time, he's aware that a lot of things can happen during the course of 162 games. His plan is to be ready.
"I feel healthy, which is the most important thing," Hagadone said. "My elbow's recovering from every outing like it should be, so I can't really complain."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.