SEATTLE -- Left-hander Danny Hultzen, who was designated for assignment on Friday by the Mariners after three injury-plagued seasons, has cleared waivers and will be outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma.
Hultzen thus remains with the organization that selected him with the second pick in the 2011 Draft and will continue his attempt to work his way back from shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of 2014 and allowed him to pitch just eight innings in 2015 with Double-A Jackson (0-1, 3.38 ERA) before being shut down again.
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Hultzen was moved off the 40-man roster when infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan and outfielder Boog Powell were promoted to protect them from Rule 5 Draft exposure. Hultzen could now be selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but that seems unlikely since any interested team could have claimed him instead of waiting for the Dec. 10 process.
If he is selected in the Rule 5 Draft, he'd have to be kept on that team's 25-man roster for the entire season or offered back to the Mariners.
The 25-year-old hasn't thrown since being shut down in August, but he is expected to begin a normal throwing program in January with the goal of being ready to go at the start of Spring Training.
"He just wants to continue to rest and rehab and strengthen the shoulder before picking up a ball in the new year," Mariners assistant general manager Jeff Kingston said. "Obviously, that's an unknown at this point, how he'll feel when he does pick up a ball. He feels he'll be good to go in Spring Training. We'll just have to wait and see on that."
Hultzen looked strong in camp last year for Seattle, but couldn't maintain that in the regular season and wound up appearing in just three games for Jackson. He's totaled just 43 2/3 innings over the past three seasons.
The Mariners still feel Hultzen's best role would be as a starting candidate, but it'll take time to build up his arm strength and innings. When healthy, he's posted a 14-9 record and 2.84 ERA with 186 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings over 35 Minor League starts.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.