Felix playing catch, could pitch Sunday

Felix playing catch, could pitch Sunday

Felix playing catch, could pitch Sunday
ANAHEIM -- The Mariners have set two-thirds of their starting rotation for this weekend's Interleague series with the Dodgers at Safeco Field, but the club is leaving the door open for Felix Hernandez to pitch Sunday if his sore back improves.

Hernandez did normal stretching with the team and played catch before Wednesday's series finale against the Angels, then gave manager Eric Wedge a thumbs up and "bueno" as he left the field.

Wedge said Hernandez will do some light throwing again on Thursday's off-day back in Seattle and the best-case scenario would have him back on the mound Sunday against the Dodgers.

The Mariners have another day off Monday, so they could hold Hernandez back until Tuesday against the Padres if there is any lingering issue.

Hernandez felt some soreness in his lower back in the third inning of his last start Friday against the White Sox and then was replaced after giving up a pair of home runs in the fifth inning. But he clearly was feeling better Wednesday as he went through his pregame workout.

"I am [encouraged]," Wedge said. "I think he's going to be fine. We'll just work off him and how he feels. I know he wants to pitch as soon as he can, but we need to see how he's doing. Sunday is the earliest, and that's not a given. We need to see how he feels."

With Thursday's off-day, the Mariners can continue skipping Hernandez for the time being without causing any problems to their rotation. Kevin Millwood will start Friday on his normal fifth day, having last thrown Sunday in Chicago.

Jason Vargas, who won his seventh game of the season Monday in Anaheim, will also stay in his normal five-day routine by starting Saturday.

Sunday's starter is being listed as TBA for now. If it's not Hernandez, then Blake Beavan would slide into that 1:10 p.m. game on his fifth day, having last pitched Tuesday against the Angels.

The Dodgers will counter with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on Friday, lefty Clayton Kershaw on Saturday and righty Chad Billingsley on Sunday.