Healthy Hultzen continues working toward game action

Healthy Hultzen continues working toward game action

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Danny Hultzen's long road back from left shoulder surgery continued Saturday, as the Mariners promising left-hander threw his second session of live batting practice this spring and moved a step closer to being game ready.

Hultzen hasn't thrown in an official game since Sept. 1, 2013, when he tossed two innings in an abbreviated start for Triple-A Tacoma while trying to come back from his initial bout of shoulder issues that had sidelined him since June of that year.

He wound up undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in October 2013 and spent all of last season rehabbing. But Hultzen, the second-overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, has looked strong this spring and says he's feeling 100 percent healthy.

The Mariners aren't expecting anything out of the 25-year-old at the Major League level this season, looking instead to build him back up in the Minors and get him ready to compete for a spot in 2016.

But Hultzen is just taking things day by day now, and Saturday was a good one as he threw 30 pitches to Minor League hitters on one of the Mariners practice fields at their Peoria Complex and spent time refining his breaking ball after struggling with that in his first live BP.

"I threw it for strikes and hopefully I can keep doing that," Hultzen said. "It felt better. I think the first time I was a little amped up, trying to make it do too much. I kind of relaxed a little bit and it worked out better."

Hultzen said he had no idea what his next step will be, but manager Lloyd McClendon has talked about the possibility of getting the former Virginia standout into a Cactus League game for an inning of relief at some point next week.

"That would be great," Hultzen said. "That would be the first time in a really, really long time that I've been in a real game, which would be great. I'm looking forward to that if that happens."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.