SEATTLE -- The pain right-hander Mark Lowe has felt in his lower back for almost three weeks also has been a royal pain in the neck for the Mariners' bullpen.
His absence definitely has contributed to the team's rough month.
The Mariners went into Friday night's Interleague game against the Padres at Safeco Field with a 4-14 record in May, a skid that cost Seattle eight games in the AL West standings.
Lowe made his 11th relief appearance of the season on May 2, surrendering three hits and two runs in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers.
That's the last time he pitched. He believes he hurt his back while lifting weights.
"It had to be," he said. "I didn't feel anything at the time, but when I got home that night and picked something up, my back locked up on me."
The pain persisted and he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 6.
"It's driving me nuts," Lowe said of his stint on the DL. "But I can't let it get to me."
The injury was diagnosed as "lower disk inflammation" and he's already had one epidermal and might have another one next week, depending on he feels after this weekend.
"I am seeing a physical therapist in downtown Seattle three times a week and it's coming along," he said. "But I'm not ready to pitch by any means."
There is no timetable for his return.
Lowe, who will be 27 on June 7, appeared in a career-high 75 games last season and ranked fourth in the AL with 26 holds. He primarily was used as the eighth-inning setup man for closer David Aardsma.
The Mariners were 62-12 when leading after seven innings last season. They're 9-3 with the lead after seven innings so far this season.