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Update [2007-3-16 10:10:31 by Eric Hz]: Will Carroll's Fantasy Injury Chat is going on right now. Clikc through and catch it while you can. Non-subscribers will not be able to do so once it ends.

I was going to run with the Seattle Times report that JJ Putz's experienced elbow "tightness" shortly after completing his 25-pitch bullpen session yesterday.  Then I decided to check the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to see if it reported the same.  Here is the ST report:

"He went through the session this morning and came out of it fine," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said after a 5-3 loss Thursday night to the San Francisco Giants. "After he got in the clubhouse, his arm tightened up on him a little bit. We'll know more about it [today]."

This is what the SPI blurbed:

J.J. Putz tested his sore right elbow with a 25-pitch effort in the bullpen before the morning game and reported all went well.

Given Putz hadn't thrown in ten days, I am inclined towards the more alarmist ST report.  I am also more inclined to believe the worst because I do not own JJ Putz on any of my fantasy teams.  Why?  I'm not an early closer drafter, and Putz's breakout effort in 2006 pushed him into the top ten rounds. A 2.30 ERA,
0.92 WHIP, a 104 Ks and 36 Saves would do that.

If Putz is seriously hurt, then GM Bill Bavasi's off-season just got considerably worse.  After dealing Raphael Soriano for a mediocre Horacio Ramirez, he could only add LHP Arthur Rhodes and RHP Chris Reitsma, two players that have more than a handful of failed closing stints on their combined resume.

Reports of increased efforts to acquire Armando Benitez or Jorge Julio should be expected.  Florida would be a good fit for what Seattle has in surplus - cheap CFers.  Jeremy Reed for Kevin Gregg?  One thing to watch for is intensified efforts by other teams looking for a closer i.e. the aforementioned Marlins, but especially the Red Sox.

The value of Armando Benitez just went up.

Update [2007-3-16 8:20:13 by Eric Hz]: From Ken Rosenthal's FOXSports column:

Right-hander Brandon Morrow, the No. 5 overall pick out of Cal in last year's amateur draft, is forcing the Mariners to consider him a candidate for their bullpen. Morrow, 22, throws 94 to 98 mph, and his repertoire also includes an 89 to 91 mph slider, a splitter and a changeup.

Update [2007-3-16 10:10:31 by Eric Hz]: From Will Carrol's chat:

Zach (Philadelphia, PA): How serious are JJ Putz's elbow problems? Is it time to panic? Will Carroll: (11:01 AM ET ) Panic? Way too early to panic, but definitely be concerned. Putz had a side session and didn't come out well. He had swelling and tightness. Will he be ready for the start of the season? Doesn't look like it. Watch this closely, There's no good closer in waiting there and the M's had scouts watching Armando Benitez this week.

Update [2007-3-16 11:45:54 by Eric Hz]:From the SPI:

Mariners' closer J.J. Putz will undergo an MRI this morning in an effort to determine the cause of stiffness in his right arm....But there is some concern that there is an underlying problem and that, possibly, Putz might not be ready to start the season....''As of right now, the stress has gone away,'' Putz said as he left to have the MRI about 9 a.m. Friday morning....''It was sort of an aching stiffness that went away. They're telling me that's a good sign.''....Putz said he is ''concerned a little'' about the time line.