Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Matt Brash delivers during the fifth inning of a game against the Houston Astros on Aug. 20, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Matt Brash delivers during the fifth inning of a game against the Houston Astros on Aug. 20, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

Mariners get relieving injury update on Matt Brash

The hard-throwing reliever won’t need surgery. Plus, updates on injuries to Gregory Santos and Luis Urias.

PEORIA, Ariz. — The Mariners won’t have Matt Brash in the bullpen on opening day at T-Mobile Park. But they also haven’t lost him for the 2024 season before it had even started.

After undergoing an MRI that was reviewed by the team’s medical staff and Dr. Keith Meister, a renowned orthopedic surgeon in Arlington, Texas, and then undergoing an in-person examination by Meister on Thursday, it was concluded that Brash would not need a surgical procedure and could resume throwing.

General manager Justin Hollander provided the medical update on the hard-throwing reliever, Friday morning at the team’s complex in Arizona.

“We did not want to give an update until we were certain as to what we were dealing with,” Hollander said. “The conclusion of everyone — he was diagnosed with medial elbow inflammation.”

When Brash felt discomfort in his right elbow following a bullpen session on Feb. 20, the Mariners immediately shut him down from throwing and tried to not fear the worst possible outcome — season-ending Tommy John surgery.

“You always get concerned when guys don’t feel well,” he said. “We know things are going to change and evolve over time. Right now, everybody feels good that the best thing for him to do is get back on the mound.”

Manager Scott Servais was cautiously optimistic about Brash’s return.

“Anytime guys have had arm issues, oftentimes people go to worst case scenarios,” Servais said. “I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, by any means. But the initial report and where we’re going to go with it, this is a positive.”

Brash didn’t feel any sort of pop or acute pain during the bullpen session that would’ve indicated a tear. But there has always been a fear that Brash’s violent delivery, arm speed generate and slider usage would lead to elbow issues.

“There isn’t anything that is inconsistent in his MIRI with the normal wear and tear of a pitcher’s elbow,” Hollander said.

Was Brash’s MRI clean on the ulnar collateral ligament?

“it’s consistent with what it’s been previously,” Hollander said. “There’s no surgical procedure that’s called for right now. There’s no PRP (platelet rich plasma shot) that we’re going to do. Our doctor and Dr. Meister feel like the best course is to continue treatment and then start throwing next week hopefully.”

Brash is scheduled to start playing catch on Tuesday or Wednesday and will slowly build up arm strength. He will need a full spring training progression of bullpens, live batting practice sessions and in-game appearances.

“He’s doing really well with the treatment,” Hollander said. “The rule of thumb generally is two weeks off, which it will have been roughly on Tuesday or Wednesday and two weeks to get back on the mound to where he was on the (Feb.) 20th. Then will need to go through a spring training at that point. So it’s really hard to predict an exact timeline of when he’ll be ready to go. It really depends on how he does with the throwing.”

Hollander admitted that timetable makes it unlikely for Brash to be ready by opening day. And really, the Mariners only care that he is healthy enough to pitch this season, not in the first game.

“I would anticipate him not starting the season with us, given that he’s not going to be back to where he was on February 20 for two more weeks,” Hollander said. “That puts us in mid-March. That’d be a really abbreviated spring training for someone to get going on their season.”

While Brash is anxious to get back on the field, the Mariners are going to make sure he doesn’t rush the process.

“You just lay it out and say you’re not gonna be here by this date,” Servais said. “He needs to check hit all of the boxes along the way. And any time you lay out a plan for that player to come back on your roster, they always think they’re going to cut it off by two weeks.”

Brash, who turns 26 in May, led the Mariners with 78 relief appearances in 2023, posting a 9-4 record with four saves and a 3.06 ERA. In 70.2 innings pitched, he struck out 107 batters with 29 walks. With his ability to generate swings and misses, he was a valuable setup reliever in late innings.

“We have to stay disciplined with him,” Servais said. “It is a long year. You know we want to win every game in April and May, but we are also going to need him in August and September.”

Right-hander Gregory Santos is progressing toward throwing off a mound. After feeling some discomfort in the back of his shoulder after a bullpen session in mid-February, he was shut down from throwing. He started playing catch last on Monday. The Mariners will not rush him either.

“He’s out to 90 to 120 feet today and he’ll keep building from there,” Servais said. “He feels really good. Again, we have to remain disciplined. We’ve got guys that can help.”

Servais feels comfortable that the collection of relievers amassed in camp, which he has labeled “The Steckenrider Bucket” after the one-time Mariners reliever, can fill those roles in the interim.

“I’ve been very impressed with the guys that are coming into camp,” he said. “They have stuff, they’re throwing strikes and the more we get to learn about them, the guys in the bucket, I think we’re gonna be just fine.”

Meanwhile, third baseman Luis Urias has been dealing with some inflammation in the capsule of his throwing shoulder. Hollander said Urias fell at his home in January and it led to the discomfort. The plan is for him to start throwing during infield drills.

Urias did throw during the infield drills but was cautious in not throwing the ball with much effort or velocity.

“He’s making progress on the defensive side,” Servais said. “You’ve gotta be able to get it across the diamond and feel good about it. Health-wise, he’s healthy. I don’t think there’s an issue there. He’s just got to work through some things and creates more arm strength.”

Servais hopes to play Urias at third base in a game after the off day on Tuesday.

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