Michael Wacha’s shoulder “feels strong” and “alive, really” after starting throwing program

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Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha took a big step in his recovery from a stress reaction in his shoulder by starting a throwing program Tuesday after six weeks on the sidelines.

Wacha seemed pleased with how things went, telling Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

I don’t feel any pain in the shoulder or anything like that. It definitely feels strong. It feels alive, really.

Of course, so far all he’s done is some light throwing off flat ground and Goold reports that the Cardinals “are targeting his return for mid-September and the club intends to ready him as a starter.” In other words, there are quite a few more hurdles to clear before then.

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Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.