SEATTLE -- Although Mariners ace Felix Hernandez would physically be able to take the mound Sunday, he will instead start Tuesday in the series opener against the Padres, said manager Eric Wedge on Friday. Hernandez has been battling a sore lower back for about a week.
The Mariners were originally hoping the righty would be able to start Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers, but Wedge said with a day off Monday, it made more sense to wait until Tuesday. Hernandez will throw a bullpen session Saturday.
"I think we feel like he could definitely pitch on Sunday, but the fact of the matter is, he's going to have six starts either way before the [All-Star] break, so it makes more sense to take the cautious route and wait until Tuesday," Wedge said. "He wants to pitch as soon as he can, but with the fact of the matter being it's six starts either way before the four-day break, it just makes sense to give him a few more days. He feels really good."
Hernandez started feeling soreness in his back during the third inning of his start June 1 against the White Sox. He was eventually lifted in the fifth after giving up a pair of home runs. He hasn't pitched since, but the Mariners were able to keep their rotation intact due to Thursday's off-day.
Hector Noesi started a day earlier than scheduled on Wednesday, but Friday, Saturday and Sunday's probable starters (Kevin Millwood, Jason Vargas and Blake Beavan) will all be going off the normal five-day rotation.