Hultzen feeling fine, gearing for bullpen session

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners left-hander Danny Hultzen, who has been sidelined since Monday with a mild strain in his right hip, played catch on Thursday and will throw an easy bullpen session on Friday as he works his way back toward game action.

Hultzen, one of the team's premier pitching prospects, was scratched from Monday's start against the Rockies after experiencing some soreness during conditioning drills last weekend.

"We're shooting for a light bullpen session [Friday]," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "If that goes well, we'll give him a day and then a normal bullpen the following day and then transition him back into games. He's much better."

Hultzen, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, never considered the injury serious, but took precautions rather than aggravate the situation. He said he's felt better every day since the initial pain and is confident everything is fine.

"I wasn't expecting it to be any longer than this," he said. "I'm just glad everything has gone smoothly."

Hultzen split last season between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, going 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA in 25 starts in his first professional season.

The former University of Virginia standout is 1-0 with three scoreless innings in two outings this spring, allowing one hit, two walks and six strikeouts.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.