SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez will make his first Cactus League start Monday against Oakland as the Mariners move forward with their American League Cy Young Award winner.
By starting Monday, Hernandez will be on schedule to pitch every fifth day up until his Opening Day start against the same A's club on April 1 in Oakland.
Jason Vargas will then follow Hernandez on Tuesday with his first Spring Training appearance. He'll throw three innings against the Giants and then follow the same path toward the regular season.
Hernandez, who threw 33 pitches in a simulated game against some Minor League batters Thursday, will also throw three innings Monday. He'll then be followed in that game by top rookie prospect Michael Pineda. New acquisition Aaron Laffey is also scheduled to pitch Monday, along with youngsters Josh Lueke and Jose Flores.
Pitching coach Carl Willis is looking to avoid having Hernandez face too many American League West teams during Spring Training and will line up several "B" games for him later in the month to avoid that, but said he's OK with him facing the A's on Monday since it's so early in spring.
That game will be at Oakland's Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 12:05 p.m. PT.
On an every-fifth-day schedule, Hernandez then would face Oakland again Saturday, followed by Kansas City on March 17, the White Sox on March 22 and the Rangers on March 27.
The March 12 and March 27 games will presumably be replaced by "B" squad outings.