Hernandez may start Thursday

Hernandez's debut could come Tuesday

SEATTLE -- The much-anticipated Major League debut of Felix Hernandez could be two days away.

The Mariners' brightest pitching prospect reportedly will join the team in Detroit on Tuesday and get his first big-league start in Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

The 19-year-old from Venezuela would become the first teenager to start a game since Todd Van Poppel made his first, and only, start of the 1991 season while with the Athletics. Dwight Gooden was 19 in 1984, when he made 31 starts for the Mets.

Hernandez recently returned from a month-long hiatus because of bursitis in his right shoulder. After making one relief appearance, he returned to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers' rotation Saturday and tossed four hitless innings, striking out seven and walking two.

He was 9-4 with a 2.25 ERA for Tacoma, holding opposing hitters to a .196 batting average. He has been especially effective recently, going 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his last eight outings.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.