Felix to throw live BP Sunday, start Thursday

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez will throw a live batting practice session Sunday, and he's scheduled to pitch in his first Spring Training game Thursday. The Mariners have two split-squad games Thursday -- one against the Royals and one against the A's -- and Hernandez will likely face Kansas City.

Pitching coach Carl Willis said that Seattle's ace will go for an intense workout on Sunday. Willis also said that Hernandez will throw 35 to 40 pitches in his first Spring Training game, and he contends that the former American League Cy Young Award winner has plenty of time to get ready.

"It seems like everyone is under the impression that he's behind," Willis said. "We started games on Feb. 22. He didn't need to start that soon. He'll be to 95-100 pitches by the time we get out of camp. ... He's basically on the same schedule he's been on; not necessarily last year because of the Japan trip, but the previous two years. It's the same timetable."

The Mariners are set to open their season on April 1 against the A's, and Hernandez has always been ready in the past. Last year, the veteran made his first start on March 28, and he made his season debut on April 1 in 2011. He made his first start on April 5 in '10 and on April 6 in '09.

Hernandez has made five Opening Day starts for Seattle, including each of the last four years. Four of those five games have come against Oakland. Hernandez has completed at least eight innings in four of his five Opening Day starts, and he's posted a 3-0 record with a 1.59 ERA in the season's first game.