Mariners now targeting Felix for Sunday

Mariners now targeting Felix for Sunday

ANAHEIM -- Felix Hernandez won't be making his scheduled start Wednesday against the Angels, but could be ready to return as early as this weekend, manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday.

Hernandez's lower back tightened up after he felt a "tweak" during his last start against the White Sox on Friday and the right-hander said it still feels "uncomfortable" when he raises his left leg to throw. He played catch briefly on Monday, but was stopped as soon as he told the trainers it still wasn't right.

"It didn't feel that bad, but it has to be perfect to where I don't feel anything," Hernandez said Tuesday. "That's why they said, 'No, you're not going.' They're just trying to prevent something real bad. But I'll be OK."

Wedge said the 2010 Cy Young Award winner will play catch Wednesday to gauge his progress.

"He wants to pitch and I love that," said Wedge. "But we'll work off how he feels."

Hernandez has been a workhorse, starting 30 or more games for six straight seasons. He understands the need to be cautious, but that doesn't mean he likes it.

"They know what they're doing," he said. "I have to be smart, but I want to pitch, too. They pay me to pitch, so I want to be out there every five days."

Hector Noesi will pitch Wednesday in Hernandez's spot against the Angels, going on three days' rest after throwing just 68 pitches his last outing. But with days off Thursday and this coming Monday, the Mariners have some flexibility.

If Hernandez isn't ready by Sunday, they could conceivably hold him back until Tuesday and just keep the other four starters on their normal schedule with the off-days.