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The Mariners have also allowed him to join their other pitchers in fielding drills, but he’s only allowed to throw the ball underhand to his target.

“I want him to understand that he’s not going to be forgotten,” said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. “A lot of times, kids trying to come back from this type of injury, it can be very frustrating. You think you’re going to be out on an island all by yourself, so we’re going to be very conscious of how we communicate with him and make sure he’s not. But it’s going to take time.”

Shortly after surgery, Hultzen promised he would not doubt his ability to return. To avoid getting discouraged, he refuses to look ahead in his recovery.

Alone, yet not isolated, he waits patiently, eager to feel that rush of excitement once again.

“I just refuse to think negatively about it,” Hultzen said. “I’m going to do everything I possibly can to come back from it, and if I don’t, then I’ll know I did everything I could.”