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Healy out 4 to 6 weeks following hand surgery

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It wasn't exactly the news the Mariners hoped to receive on the first day that players took the field at the start of Spring Training, but manager Scott Servais said Thursday the hope is for first baseman Ryon Healy to be back playing games before Opening Day after undergoing surgery on Valentine's Day to remove a bone spur in his right hand.

Healy, acquired by the Mariners to fill their first-base vacancy this offseason, will be out about four to six weeks, the club announced shortly before pitchers and catchers took the field for their first workout of Spring Training.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It wasn't exactly the news the Mariners hoped to receive on the first day that players took the field at the start of Spring Training, but manager Scott Servais said Thursday the hope is for first baseman Ryon Healy to be back playing games before Opening Day after undergoing surgery on Valentine's Day to remove a bone spur in his right hand.

Healy, acquired by the Mariners to fill their first-base vacancy this offseason, will be out about four to six weeks, the club announced shortly before pitchers and catchers took the field for their first workout of Spring Training.

The Mariners open the regular season in six weeks, on March 29, so the timeline is tight.

"From what I've heard, he'll be game ready in four to six weeks," Servais said. "And I know that's a big window, but I'm not a doctor. We'll have to see how the rehab stuff goes. He's very anxious and wants to get out there and contribute as quick as he can."

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The surgery was performed Wednesday in Philadelphia by Dr. Randall Culp, and Healy will rejoin the team in the next day or two and begin rehabbing.

Seattle's other primary first basemen in camp are rookies Daniel Vogelbach and Mike Ford, a Rule 5 Draft pickup from the Yankees.

Vogelbach is Seattle's No. 7 ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, and he has hit very well at the Triple-A level the past two years, though the 25-year-old has batted just .175 in 40 at-bats in a couple brief stints in the big leagues since being acquired from the Cubs in 2016.

Ford, Seattle's No. 22 prospect, posted a .270/.404/.471 line with 20 home runs and 86 RBIs last year between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Yankees organization, but the 25-year-old has played just 25 games at Triple-A and never been in the big leagues.

Video: Outlook: Healy to see regular time with new team

"It gives them an opportunity," Servais said. "They were going to play a lot anyway. It's about opportunity. Those kids will get it. They'll get a chance to go out there. And we've got some other guys we'll give an opportunity to over there throughout camp and see how Ryon is coming along."

Outfielder Cameron Perkins is another player on the 40-man roster with some first-base experience, having started 35 games there in the Minors. He was claimed off waivers from the Phillies in December.

Matt Hague, a 32-year-old non-roster invitee, has played a lot of first base in his career, which includes limited Major League time with the Pirates and Blue Jays.

There are also a number of free-agent first basemen available, though that route seems unlikely if the Mariners are confident Healy will be back for the regular season.

"I don't want to get too far down the road," said Servais. "We've got about six weeks to work out here before we open up. So we'll keep our fingers crossed that Ryon will get back in the mix and it will create opportunity for those other guys."

Healy, 26, was acquired from the A's for reliever Emilio Pagan and Minor League infielder Alexander Campos in November with the expectation that he'd handle the everyday first-base duties. He and center fielder Dee Gordon were Seattle's two main offseason additions to the lineup. Healy hit .271 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs last season for Oakland.

Healy started having some issues with the hand after working out and hitting earlier in the offseason. The Mariners shut him down for several weeks, but the problem returned when Healy resumed workouts.

Servais called the bone spur a "best-case scenario" compared to what he first thought when Healy went for further tests.

"I think it's just kind of a freak thing," Servais said. "When I first heard, I thought hamate [bone]. Everybody is used to that where they have to go in and take it out. This is not the hamate, but it's in his right hand, his top hand with the bat. Any time you've got an issue with the hands, you get a little worried, a little cautious. But everything coming out of the surgery is really positive."

Heredia on the mend

The injury news was better on fourth outfielder Guillermo Heredia, who is progressing from October surgery on his right non-throwing shoulder quicker than anticipated. Servais said there is "a chance" the 27-year-old Cuban will be ready by the start of the regular season on March 29.

Tweet from @MarinersPR: #Mariners Manager Scott Servais meets with the media for the first of more than 300 media sessions this season. #MarinersST pic.twitter.com/b4eKWQUorR

"He's been hitting off the tee, doing soft toss," Servais said. "We'll know more after his physical if he gets cleared to go. But he's worked his tail off and looks great. It's just how he's wired. He wants to get out there and play. He might be a little bit slower, but not as far off as what I thought he'd be."

Iwakuma aiming to throw by March

Most of the 32 pitchers in camp will be full go from the start when the Mariners take the field Thursday for their first workout, though Servais said relievers David Phelps and Tony Zych will likely throw a few more bullpen sessions than the rest of the group before getting into game action as a precaution after dealing with shoulder issues late last season.

The only significant hold-up will be with veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who agreed to return to the Mariners on a Minor League deal after missing nearly all of last season with a shoulder injury and then undergoing surgery in September.

Iwakuma likely won't be ready for games until several months into the regular season, but Servais said the 36-year-old has worked hard to put himself into position to compete this year.

"Kuma has slimmed down," Servais said. "He wanted to get all his flexibility and range of motion back. He's noticeably slimmer and feels stronger. Hopefully he's throwing bullpens by early March, then we can build him up from there."

On the run

One of the Mariners' primary focuses this spring will be improving their baserunning, which was a problem area for much of 2017. Servais said extra drills will be undertaken daily in the early portion of camp.

With only three days of position player workouts before the first Cactus League action on Feb. 23, the club will need to change its normal routine to get the running work in.

"Typically when games start, we move up to fields 1 and 2 [for the morning workouts]," Servais said. "But we're staying on the back fields a little longer into camp because we need fields to get through some of the drills. We can't just do it for three days and say we're good. We'll be on it longer than that. Our workouts will stay in the back at least an extra 5-8 days."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Ryon Healy