Mariners News: Danny Hultzen Suffers Setback, Pondering Retirement


The Mariners have shut down Danny Hultzen after experiencing tightness in his left shoulder.

The career of Danny Hultzen has been a turbulent one, and it hit another unexpected bump on Thursday morning. Scott Servais told the media that Hultzen has been experiencing stiffness in his left shoulder, and he “is evaluating future options.” Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune broke the news on his twitter account.

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The Seattle Mariners selected the University of Virginia alum with the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. Hultzen was billed as a “pro ready pitcher,” but injuries have derailed his once promising career. Dutton’s tweet would seem to indicate that Danny is now pondering retirement. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times caught up with Hultzen this morning, and the southpaw had this to say regarding his latest injury, “It’s just a setback because I’ve been doing everything I can.”

Hultzen has been dominant when healthy in the minor leagues. He sports a career record of 14-9 and has registered an ERA of 2.84 across 35 outings. Hultzen has struck out 186 hitters during his career, and has walked 87 over the course of 167.2 innings.

The Mariners were very aggressive with Hultzen, and started him with the Jackson Generals of the Southern League as a 22-year-old in 2012. The big left-hander dazzled, going 8-3 with a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts. Hultzen fanned 79 and issued 32 free passes through 75.1 innings of work. His strong showing in AA allowed him to finish the season with the Tacoma Rainiers.

The Washington, DC product was well on his way to making his Mariners debut in 2013 before going down with the shoulder injury. Across 6 starts with the Tacoma Rainiers in 2013, Hultzen was 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA. He struck out 34 and walked 7 in 30.2 innings. Most impressive of all, he limited the opposition to just 0.848 walks/hits per inning.

After making a brief appearance with the Mariners in Spring Training last year, Hultzen began the 2015 season with Seattle’s double-A affiliate in Jackson. The former top prospect made just 3 starts for the Generals, going 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA. He struck out 8 and walked 5 across 8 innings of work.

The Mariners opted to shut Hultzen down in late July after he experienced tightness in his left shoulder. There is little doubt Seattle was hoping to see more from Danny in 2015, but playing it safe was likely a wise decision. The original plan was to send him to the Arizona Fall League, but things changed when he was designated for assignment following last season.

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The 26-year-old southpaw passed through waivers unclaimed, and he was outrighted to Tacoma. The Mariners’ plan was to transition Hultzen to the bullpen this spring. This was a great idea on paper, as he has the stuff to be an elite lefty specialist. The hope was that the decreased workload would keep Hultzen on the field in 2016.

Hultzen entered the 2016 season healthy and he has been throwing bullpen sessions in Peoria since mid-February. Many of the M’s beat writers posted videos of the southpaw pitching last month, and it was fun to see him finally toeing the rubber in a Mariners’ uniform (even if it was just practice). Seattle had planned to use him as a reliever in an upcoming Cactus League game, but that plan has been scraped following his latest setback.

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We will have to wait and see what his latest diagnosis is, but Danny Hultzen is very talented and I’m hopeful he decides to keep pitching. This news is very disappointing, and it must be a confusing time for Danny.