Furbush awaiting clearance to begin throwing

Furbush awaiting clearance to begin throwing

SEATTLE -- Mariners lefty reliever Charlie Furbush has completed a series of six injections in his Regonkine Therapy treatment, but the 29-year-old was still waiting to learn Friday when he can begin throwing again as he works back from a sore left shoulder that sidelined him most of spring.

Furbush was set to meet with Mariners team physician Ed Khalfayan for an update on his status.

"He'll come up with the game plan, and hopefully I can start throwing soon., hopefully the next week or two," Furbush said. "The early signs feel great."

Once Furbush is cleared to begin playing catch, it's going to take another month or more to build his arm back up by going through the normal series of bullpen sessions, simulated games and likely some Minor League outings. So realistically, he could be looking at a late May or June return even if there are no setbacks.

Furbush hasn't pitched for the Mariners since last July 7. He posted a 2.08 ERA in 21 2/3 innings over 33 outings before going on the disabled list with tenderness in his shoulder. He was eventually diagnosed with a slight rotator cuff tear, but doctors decided no surgery was necessary and Furbush hoped to return this spring.

After throwing two live batting-practice sessions against Minor League hitters, Furbush was shut down again due to lingering soreness in the shoulder. He underwent the Regenokine Therapy -- which involves extracting a patient's blood, separating elements of the blood, and using a specific layer of the blood as an injected anti-inflammatory agent -- in the final week of camp in Arizona, hoping to speed the healing process.

"I feel normal right now," Furbush said. "But I haven't been throwing in a little while."

With Furbush opening the year on the 15-day disabled list, the Mariners are going with Vidal Nuno and converted starter Mike Montgomery as their two lefties in the bullpen.

Worth noting

Felix Hernandez celebrated his 30th birthday on Friday, while catcher Chris Iannetta turned 33. Hernandez has the fourth-most strikeouts prior to age 30 of any pitcher in Major League history at 2,148. Tops on that list is Hall of Famer Walter Johnson at 2,305. Sam McDowell is second at 2,271, followed by another Hall of Famer in Bert Blyleven at 2,250. Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax are fifth and sixth behind Hernandez.

• The Mariners opened their home season Friday with 18 players on their 25-man roster who weren't with the club on Opening Day at Safeco Field in 2015. The only holdovers from that season-opening roster are pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker and Hernandez, second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Kyle Seager and outfielders Seth Smith and Nelson Cruz.

• Right-hander Edwin Diaz, ranked the Mariners' No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, threw six scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and nine strikeouts in a 6-0 victory for Double-A Jackson in its opener over Montgomery on Thursday. Diaz, who just turned 22, has now been the Opening Day starter for four different Mariners Minor League teams the past four seasons and has combined to post a 0.83 ERA in 21 2/3 innings in those 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.