Putz leaves game with elbow soreness
Club cautious with closer; more will be known of injury Friday
TORONTO -- J.J. Putz's hard-luck season was dealt another blow on Wednesday afternoon when the Mariners closer was forced to leave their 2-1 win over the Blue Jays with right elbow soreness during the ninth inning.
Putz declined to speak with the media after the game, but said he would have something to say on Friday once he learns more about the seriousness of his injury.
Putz had been brought in to protect the lead and was looking for his eighth save of the season. The first batter he faced was Blue Jays second baseman Joe Inglett and during that at-bat, Putz was seen shaking his right arm in discomfort.
The 31-year-old eventually walked Inglett but remained in the game to face Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells. After Putz ran the count to 1-2, Mariners manager John McLaren noticed his reliever shaking his elbow yet again and came onto the field and decided to remove him from the game.
"I saw him a couple of times grabbing his elbow," McLaren explained afterwards. "It sent a red flag up and we weren't going to take any chances."
Putz spent time on the 15-day disabled list earlier this season with inflammation near his rib cage. That injury limited Putz to just three appearances in April.
The elbow soreness is considered to be a new injury. It remains very likely that Putz will eventually have to get the area examined, but at this point the Mariners are taking a wait-and-see approach.
"I'm not sure about [the seriousness]," McLaren said. "We're just going to have to play it day by day. ... We're going to take it tomorrow and go from there."
During the 2006 and '07 seasons, Putz ranked third in the American League with 76 saves. His season hasn't gone as smoothly this year, though. In 19 innings of work, he is 2-3 with a 5.21 ERA and has converted seven of 10 save opportunities.
Putz's injury concern took some of the energy out of the Mariners clubhouse following a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Jays.
"It was disappointing to see J.J. get hurt," starting pitcher Felix Hernandez said. "We need J.J. back and hopefully he'll get better. It was tough [to see]."
Seattle right-hander Brandon Morrow came on to replace Putz and retired all three batters he faced to record his first career save. If Putz is forced to miss any extended period of time, it's likely that Morrow will take over the closing duties.
Gregor Chisholm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.