Hultzen posts scoreless inning in return

Hultzen posts scoreless inning in return

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching for the first time in two weeks after dealing with a minor hip strain, top Mariners left-handed prospect Danny Hultzen threw a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday in Seattle's 4-2 loss to the Royals.

Hultzen, ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners' No. 2 overall prospect, gave up a leadoff double to Lorenzo Cain after replacing starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the fifth inning, but stranded the speedster at third by retiring the next three batters.

Hultzen, 23, said he still can't full-out sprint, but that's not a problem since he's not running the bases. His job is to prevent the opposition from doing so. And after the leadoff double, he settled in nicely in that regard.

"It was good to be out there again," he said after having his last start scratched because of the hip soreness. "I'm past that and hopefully it doesn't come back. I'll just keep doing some preventative work to make sure it doesn't happen again, but it felt good today."

Hultzen, the second overall selection in the 2011 Draft, said he hung an 0-2 curve up where Cain could reach it, a quick reminder that he was facing Major League batters again.

"I made a mistake and he hammered it," Hultzen said. "That's what good hitters do. At this level, you're going to face a lot more good hitters. I tried to not dwell on it, just because in recent history I've been thinking about things too much and not just moving on. So I tried to do that, just forget about it and keep making pitches."

He needed just 12 pitches to get through his inning and hopes to get a chance to throw a lot more in the next few weeks, knowing he's fallen behind with just four innings of Cactus League work. He's yet to allow a run and has given up just two hits in those four innings, but knows he needs to get back up to speed quickly.

"You can't impress anyone on the bench," he said. "I just hope I get a couple more chances and keep going. I missed a few days, but hopefully it didn't affect anything and I can get back in stride with these guys that are up to 4-5 innings."

"We'll work him back," said manager Eric Wedge. "We wanted to just get him one inning today and we'll see how he feels tomorrow. But he said he felt good and he obviously looked good."

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.