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Felix, Mariners optimistic about ace's return

Felix, Mariners optimistic about ace's return

Felix, Mariners optimistic about ace's return

ST. LOUIS -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will throw a bullpen session on Monday in Detroit, after which the club will determine if he'll return to the rotation as early as Wednesday against the Tigers.

Hernandez has been sidelined since Sept. 2 with a minor oblique strain in his left side. He threw in the outfield prior to Friday's game at Busch Stadium without problems and will now test his side while working off the mound after the team arrives in Detroit for its next series in a 10-game road trip.

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"Felix was very optimistic yesterday about his day," manager Eric Wedge said prior to Saturday's game. "He's going to throw a bullpen Monday, so we feel he's going to be able to get back into it."

The club has set Joe Saunders to start Monday against the Tigers, followed by rookie Brandon Maurer on Tuesday. But the Wednesday and Thursday starters in the four-game series won't be announced until Hernandez's situation is clarified.

The Mariners currently are going with a six-man rotation, including Hernandez. So if he does throw Wednesday in Detroit, he'd likely have one more start after that on Tuesday, Sept. 24, against the Royals in Seattle.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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