The Mariners announced that three important members of the team’s pitching staff recently underwent surgery. Reliever Steve Cishek had his torn hip labrum repaired, starter Taijuan Walker had a bone fragment removed from his right ankle, and bullpen member Tony Zych underwent a shoulder biceps tendon transfer in his right arm.
It seems that Cishek’s may be the most concerning of the procedures. The club’s announcement suggests that he’ll need four to six months of rehab “before resuming full baseball activities,” which means that it would be quite optimistic to expect him to be ready for the start of the regular season. (Spring training will begin in about four months.)
Cishek suffered the tear during the season, but was able to return after a fairly brief absence. It’s not clear whether something else occurred, or if that was simply a temporary solution — with plans for an offseason surgery for a permanent fix. Cishek is owed $6MM next year, the second and final year of his contract, and had seemed primed to serve as a quality set-up man after providing 64 frames of 2.81 ERA pitching (with 10.7 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9) in 2016.
Walker, meanwhile, dealt with foot issues throughout the year and obviously felt it was an opportune moment to have that addressed. Seattle desperately needs him to fulfill the huge promise he has shown. The club says that Walker is expected to be ready to go with camp opens.
Finally, the prognosis is the same for Zych, though it’s hard to say his outlook is as promising. The 26-year-old has shown swing and miss stuff, but missed a great deal of the 2016 campaign and only ended up making a dozen major league appearances. His procedure may be somewhat less dramatic than it sounds, as the club stressed that it “did not involve the rotator cuff or capsule in the shoulder.” Certainly, a healthy Zych would go a long way toward making up for Cishek’s absence, however long that turns out to be.