Mariners reliever Pryor free from sling

SEATTLE — Stephen Pryor was all smiles on Monday in the Seattle Mariners clubhouse.

Why?

Because he was finally free.

Not free from the Mariners, but free from the sling that his right arm had been locked into to for the last six weeks. He got the clearance on Friday.

“It feels awesome,” the relief pitcher said.

Pryor had surgery to repair a torn latissums dorsi below his throwing shoulder. The recovery required the arm to be immobilized in the sling for over a month and a half. That meant the only time it could come out was for bathing. The rest of the time it was locked into place, including at night.

“Sleeping was hard,” he said. “I kind of laid in bed on my back. It was awkward and hard to get comfortable.”

Now that he sans sling, Pryor will slowly strengthen his arm with physical therapy.

“I haven’t done much, but I can tell that it’s weak,” he said.

He also feels weak. He’s noticeably thinner having lost 10 pounds off his sturdy frame.

“I lost a bunch of muscle,” Pryor said.

The strengthening process is lengthy. Pryor won’t pick up a baseball for quite a while.

“I’m hoping to start playing catch in mid or end of January and come into camp already throwing,” Pryor said. “Hopefully I will be able to start the year with the team.”

And what has he done with the sling?

“I still have it,” he said. “I didn’t get rid of it. I should. I never want to see that thing again.”

Saunders shut down

Unless something drastic happens in the final six games of the season, Joe Saunders made his last start for the Seattle Mariners this season on Saturday night in Anaheim. He took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits.

“Yeah, as of right now, that’s what we are looking at,” manager ERic Wedge said if Saunders was done for the year. “It’s always subject to change.”

It’s a merciful end to a frustrating season for Saunders. He posted an 11-16 record in 32 starts with a 5.26 ERA. The losses and ERA were career highs.

“It’s just been a tough season,” Saunders said. “It’s been really frustrating. I’ve never had anything like this.”

The Mariners have yet to name a starter for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Oakland A’s. The hope is that Erasmo Ramirez, who left his start on Friday night with groin stiffness, will be healthy and ready to start. If not Brandon Maurer, who started on Monday night against the Royals, would fill in that spot.

Saunders may have thrown his last pitch of the season for the Mariners. But has he thrown his last pitch as a Mariner?

He signed a one-year $6.5 million contract with Seattle just before spring training. The deal includes a mutual option for next season. Meaning both the Mariners and Saunders would have to agree on having him come back. Despite his struggles in games, Saunders never missed a start and pitched 183 innings. It will be interesting on what either the Mariners or Saunders decides to do going forward.

Short hops

Brad Miller was back in the starting line-up and batting lead-off for the Mariners on Monday night. He had not started a game since Sept. 14 when he suffered a mild hamstring strain against the St. Louis Cardinals. He made an appearance as a pinch hitter on Saturday in Anaheim and singled. “He wanted to play yesterday and he probably could have, but we wanted to give him an extra day,” Wedge said. “To get him back in there is a good thing for him and us. I threw him right back at the top of the lineup. We’ll just take it day by day and see how he’s feeling.” … Raul Ibanez was back in the starting line-up as well. Ibanez sat out Sunday’s game. With 29 home runs this season, Wedge is going to give Ibanez every chance to hit his 30th home run this season in the next seven games. It would be a new record for most home runs in a season by a player who is 41 years old. Ibanez matched the record of 29 set by Ted Williams in 1960 with a solo home run on Saturday night. … The Mariners are 19-28 in one-run games this season, including going 10-20 on the road.

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