Furbush might not be ready for Opening Day

Mariners lefty slowed by tight shoulder in return from DL

Furbush might not be ready for Opening Day

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Opening Day now just three weeks away, there is growing concern in Mariners' camp about the availability of reliever Charlie Furbush as the lefty setup man continues to be slowed by some lingering tightness in his throwing shoulder.

With only two other healthy left-handed relievers in camp in Vidal Nuno and David Rollins, manager Scott Servais said starting candidate Mike Montgomery -- who is out of Minor League options and facing tough odds to make the rotation -- would be used out of the bullpen the rest of the spring.

Mariners Spring Training info

Furbush spent the last three months of 2015 on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and a slight rotator-cuff tear. He didn't need surgery, but has been brought along cautiously this spring. But that caution has turned to concern after an attempt at a flat-ground throwing session was halted after a few throws on Saturday.

"I think he's going to play catch on Tuesday and see where that is at," Servais said Sunday. "I'm not going to lie to you, there is a little concern. I still have my fingers crossed that he's going to be ready for Opening Day. But we'll just have to see where we are at."

Montgomery missed some time earlier in camp after having a cyst surgically removed from his neck, but made his Cactus League debut on Saturday and threw three shutout innings in a 5-2 win over the Reds.

Montgomery, 26, went 4-6 with a 4.60 ERA in 16 starts for Seattle last year as a rookie and tossed back-to-back shutouts in June before running into difficulties and finishing the season in Triple-A. The former first-round Draft pick of the Royals has been a starter throughout his eight years in the Minors, but with six other healthy starters ahead of him in the pecking order, the bullpen might be a way to keep him on the roster.

"That might be his best shot to land a spot with us," Servais said. "He has started in the past and gives us some length. You can do some different things with him. We'll see."

Servais noted that the club does have some right-handed relievers who are effective against left-handed hitters and also added that the front office would keep its eyes open for relievers from other teams who come available as the season approaches.

Worth noting

Felix Hernandez will make his first spring start Monday against the Rockies in a game in Peoria and is slated for three innings, while Taijuan Walker is scheduled for four innings at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale against the D-backs in Seattle's second spilt-squad action of the spring. Both games will begin at 1:10 p.m. PT, and Hernandez's start will be available to watch on MLB.TV.

• Having already faced the AL West-rival Angels once this spring, Wade Miley will be moved to a Minor League start against the Brewers on Tuesday. Right-hander Cody Martin will start that day's Cactus League game in Tempe. Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled for Wednesday's start against the Giants in Peoria.

• The Mariners led the Cactus League with 18 stolen bases going into Sunday, six ahead of the Angles and Rangers. Utilityman Shawn O'Malley led the way with four, while Leonys Martin and Benji Gonzalez had three apiece. Gonzales was among seven players reassigned to Minor League camp on Sunday.

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.