Mariners shut down Casper Wells due to head issue

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From beat writer Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune comes word that the Mariners have put an early end to Casper Wells’ 2011 season due to ongoing complications with his head.

The mysterious ailment, which is affecting Wells’ equilibrium, was originally diagnosed as a “severe sinus issue.” But that was ruled out this week after a visit with a specialist. Wells’ eyes have also been checked, and there’s nothing wrong with them either.

The Mariners’ medical team will continue to seek a diagnosis and a course of treatment. For now, they’ve simply shut the 26-year-old outfielder down as a precautionary measure.

“I didn’t go with the team and I’ve seen a couple of doctors this week and found out what it isn’t, we just haven’t figured out yet what it is,” Wells said Thursday. “I don’t want the perception to be I’m taking it easy – the last few weeks, I couldn’t pick up the fastball.

At first I thought it was my eyes, then I thought maybe some kind of sinus infection. In the outfield, I was having trouble seeing the ball. At the plate, the only thing I could really pick up was the curve, and I hit one for a home run in the Texas series at home.”

Wells hit .237/.317/.442 with 11 homers in 241 plate appearances this season between the Tigers and M’s.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.