SEATTLE -- Shae Simmons, who figured prominently in the Mariners' relief plans coming into this year, was back throwing at Safeco Field on Saturday. Unfortunately for the hard-throwing 26-year-old, his work came in a 30-pitch pregame session in the bullpen in front of the team's training staff as he attempts
SEATTLE -- Shae Simmons, who figured prominently in the Mariners' relief plans coming into this year, was back throwing at Safeco Field on Saturday. Unfortunately for the hard-throwing 26-year-old, his work came in a 30-pitch pregame session in the bullpen in front of the team's training staff as he attempts to restart a frustrating season of arm issues.
After being shut down in Spring Training with a strained elbow, Simmons had finally recovered and threw well enough in a trio of rehab outings at Double-A Arkansas in mid-July that he got promoted to Triple-A Tacoma. Simmons was back on the Mariners' radar when some soreness cropped up in his right shoulder before his first scheduled appearance there.
Two weeks later, he's now throwing off the mound, firing 30 pitches on Saturday and hoping the train is back on the tracks.
"Hopefully by the end of next week I'm back in games," said Simmons, who was acquired from the Braves in January with the expectation he could be part of Seattle's late-inning relief core. "That's the plan. We'll see how it goes. Things can always change, but if everything goes well, I could get out of here next week and start throwing again."
Simmons posted a 2.91 ERA in 26 games as a rookie for the Braves in 2014, but sat out all of 2015 following Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He worked his way back to the big leagues by the end of last season, but had some forearm issues that carried over again to his spring with Seattle.
The frustration of spending three months in Arizona rehabbing and then being so close again before a new issue cropped up is understandable.
"That's what bothers me about it, I was so close to coming back," Simmons said. "It'll work out eventually. I was pretty excited [two weeks ago]. Hopefully I can just get healthy at some point and be able to be productive for the team in whatever role or situation that might be. We've got a good club with a chance to make the playoffs."
• Manager Scott Servais said Saturday that right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma continues to throw long toss before games, but hasn't been cleared to get back on the mound as he deals with a lingering shoulder issue that has sidelined him since May 3.
"Last I heard he was out to throwing about 140-150 feet and working his way toward a bullpen," Servais said. "Hopefully he picks up here soon. If everything went right, maybe he could possibly get back in the mix. It's going to take some time to get him built up, but he has to be pain-free and get on the mound and go from there. I don't have a timetable for any of that."
• Steve Cishek's trade to the Marlins has changed a few roles in the bullpen. Servais said rookie Emilio Pagan will be used in higher-leverage situations in the later innings and the long relief role for now falls to Cody Martin and Casey Lawrence, who were called up Friday. One of those two likely will be sent back to Tacoma on Sunday or Monday when Erasmo Ramirez joins the team after being acquired Friday from the Rays.
• Ramirez is slotted to join the rotation Tuesday in Texas after Felix Hernandez kicks off the upcoming road trip Monday in Arlington. Ariel Miranda will close out the Rangers series on Wednesday, which tentatively sets up Yovani Gallardo, James Paxton, Hernandez and Ramirez to face the Royals in Kansas City.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.