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Felix ready to begin mound work Wednesday

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez has taken things slowly so far this spring, as planned, but is expected to throw off a mound for the first time Wednesday with a 10-minute bullpen session.

Once Hernandez decided to opt out of the World Baseball Classic, the Mariners backed off his early Spring Training schedule to allow him extra time to prepare, particularly after he reported a few days late after flying to Seattle to sign his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

Most of the other Mariners pitchers have thrown two bullpen sessions, plus one round of live batting practice, so Hernandez is about a week behind that schedule. But that's right where the Mariners want him at this juncture.

"We just need to get him ready by April," said pitching coach Carl Willis.

Hernandez will be the Opening Day pitcher against the A's in Oakland on April 1. Not so certain is who will start Friday's Cactus League opener, the annual charity game against the Padres at 1:05 p.m. MT (12:05 p.m. PT).

Manager Eric Wedge said he and Willis would be hammering out the pitching plans for the initial Cactus League games soon. At this point, all he could say is that each pitcher will throw one inning in the first game or two.

"You'll see a lot of guys out there," said Wedge.

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