Agent Scott Boras' signing demands not only took care of that, it cost Fields all of last season after the College World Series. And now, he may be paying the price.
Fields has been shut down at Class AA West Tennessee because of what the Mariners are calling "dead arm." Fields, 1-0 with one save and a 6.00 ERA, hasn't pitched since May 5. He has begun a throwing program and the Mariners expect him to be pitching in games again soon.
"He's fine," said Pedro Grifol, the Mariners' minor league director. "He ran into a little bit of dead arm. We were going to give him 10-14 days. He's in his throwing program and he's feeling really good. There's no hurry on him. The key for us is for him to finish the season."
There seems little doubt that Fields' long period of inactivity after the draft last summer is connected with his situation now.
He didn't sign until late February and immediately joined the Mariners' big-league training camp. After early hope that he would pitch in at least one exhibition game, the Mariners decided not to push Fields too much given how long it had been since he'd pitched.
Grifol credits Dave Wallace, the Mariners' minor league pitching coordinator, with recognizing the need for Fields to be shut down before he has a more serious arm issue. Fields had allowed six hits and three runs in 2-1/3 innings before he was shut down.
"Dave has been in this game a long time and he IDs guys when they need a rest," Grifol said. "It was time for Josh. He's an extremely, extremely hard worker who went through all of spring training, and every time he goes to the ballpark he goes about his work with 130 percent effort. He hit a little bit of a wall and we just shut him down a little bit. He's on a throwing program and he'll be back pretty soon."
Elsewhere around the Mariners' minor league system:
CLASS AAA TACOMA RAINIERS
Jeff Clement has been limited to DH duty lately because of a swollen left knee, but it has hardly affected his hitting. Clement has his average up to .270 after a 10-game stretch in which he batted .375, including six games in which he went 13-for-28 with six doubles.
"He's in a groove and he's got his rhythm," Grifol said. "He's seeing the ball real well right now and he's confident. It was just a matter of time with him. This kid is going to hit."
About that knee. Clement had surgery early last September and, despite some soreness during spring training, it didn't appear to affect him despite a slow start with the bat early this season.
Lately, though, it has been swollen and Clement hasn't caught since May 6. His last 10 games have been at DH.
"His knee was a little swollen and he saw a doctor," Grifol said. "It was no big deal."
The Rainiers were swept in a doubleheader Monday at Oklahoma City, dropping them to 20-19 and third in the Pacific Coast League Pacific North Division, 4½ games behind first-place Salt Lake.
Outfielder Prentice Redman leads the team with a .324 average, 10 homers and 21 RBI. First baseman Mike Carp has a team-high 22 RBI, with eight home runs and a .301 average. Right-hander Andrew Baldwin is 2-2 with a 3.43 ERA in seven starts. Randy Messenger has a 2.16 ERA and was tied for seventh in the PCL with five saves.
CLASS AA WEST TENNESSEE DIAMONDJAXX
Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera remains one of the Southern League's top hitters, with a .352 average that tied him for fifth in the league. His .481 on-base percentage led the league and his 11 steals were third. The DiamondJaxx led the league with 176 walks and a .357 on-base percentage.
Outfielder Greg Halman had 12 homers and 30 RBI, but also a .213 average and 59 strikeouts in 136 at-bats.
Right-hander Mumba Rivera was 4-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 14 relief appearances, with 28 strikeouts in 21-1/3 innings.
The DiamondJaxx were 14-22 and fifth in the Southern League North, four games behind first-place Tennessee.
CLASS A HIGH DESERT MAVERICKS
The Mavericks, 24-14 and first in the California League South, led the league with a .298 team batting average, a .516 slugging percentage and a .371 on-base percentage. First baseman Joe Dunigan was first with 13 home runs, 41 RBI and .724 slugging percentage, second with 15 doubles and fourth with a .355 average.
Third baseman Alex Liddi, who was batting .351, was second in the league with 10 homers and 35 RBI. Outfielder Tyson Gillies was batting .320 and was third in the league with a .446 on-base percentage.
Closer Phillippe Aumont, 0-2 with a 2.89 ERA, has been knocked around in his past two outings. He gave up three runs in two innings and blew his first save Thursday at Rancho Cucamonga, then allowed three hits and two runs in the ninth inning of a tie game Sunday against Stockton.
Right-hander Michael Pineda was 4-1 with a 3.23 ERA.
CLASS A CLINTON LUMBERKINGS
Right-hander Brett Lorin is 3-0 in seven starts, and his 1.71 ERA ranks third in the Midwest League. Right-hander Aaron Pribanic was 4-1, 2.57 in seven starts and righty Ruben Flores 1-0, 2.16 with five saves. The LumberKings' 3.18 team ERA is the third-lowest in the league.
Second baseman Luis Nunez was batting .316, 11th in the league.
Clinton went 3-7 in a 10-game stretch, falling to 20-17 and fourth in the Western Division, three games behind first-place Kane County.
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