Danny Hultzen was drafted in 2011 as the 2nd overall pick, but due to various injuries, he has yet to make his major league debut. At first it looked like he was on a fast track to the big leagues, as he was pitching in AAA just a year after being selected by the Mariners. In 2013 however, Hultzen missed nearly the entire season due to a shoulder injury, and later underwent surgery to repair a damaged labrum as well as torn a rotator cuff.
The surgery forced Hultzen to sit out the entire 2014 season. He made three appearances in 2015 at the AA level, but was only able muster eight innings.
The Mariners were hoping that his injury luck would change this spring, but unfortunately that's not the case.
"Pitcher Danny Hultzen, who has been shut down indefinitely because of shoulder stiffness, is 'exploring all of his options' Mariners manager Scott Servais said Thursday.
'I think he's in a tough spot. He's gone through so much. I really feel for him, knowing he's a very talented guy. The cards the game deals you every once in a while are not always fair. Hopefully he kind of makes a decision where he's at and then can move forward. Right now, he's just trying to weigh all his options and see what he wants to do.'"
At a certain point, no matter the level of talent, a player simply can't keep pushing through the injuries, and that seems to be what Servais was alluding to. That decision is ultimately up to Hultzen, but it would appear as if he's already figured out a plan.
"'It's just a setback. It's obviously super-frustrating, because I've been doing everything I can. That's the way I'm looking at it. I know I'm doing everything I can, and whatever happens is going to happen...'
Hultzen said he is waiting for his inflammation to decrease and hopes to resume his throwing program when it does.
'I think that's the plan. I've got to pass the tests and all that stuff, but it's already getting better, so I'm feeling OK about it.'"
At age 26, Hultzen's career isn't over, but it's fair to wonder how much longer he can keep going through rehab and throwing programs. This is another unfortunate blow, but hopefully for Hultzen, and the Mariners, it won't be the end for the left-hander.