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Doubleheader pitching still undecided

Doubleheader pitching still undecided

HOUSTON -- When the Mariners conclude a nine-game road trip with a doubleheader Wednesday at Oakland, Felix Hernandez will pitch one of the two games. But manager Lloyd McClendon said he hasn't determined yet if his ace will pitch the first or second game and he's not committing yet to the other starter.

The club is expected to recall right-hander Erasmo Ramirez to start one of those games after sending him to the Minors the past two weeks while going with a four-man rotation, which was made possible by a number of off days on the schedule.

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Hisashi Iwakuma was activated off the disabled list Saturday to rejoin the rotation, so the Mariners are back to five starters. But they'll need one more for Wednesday's doubleheader and Ramirez could be added without affecting the 25-man roster, since teams are allowed to add a 26th player for doubleheaders.

Ramirez allowed one run with five hits over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision Friday night for Triple-A Tacoma against Las Vegas. The 23-year-old issued three walks with eight strikeouts while throwing 106 pitches.

"He pitched OK," said McClendon.

Hernandez lasted just five innings and 89 pitches -- his shortest start of the year -- in a 5-4 loss to the Astros on Friday as he was dealing with a flu bug that previously hit catcher Mike Zunino in New York.

Hernandez said he lost nine pounds in two days and didn't have his normal energy in Friday's game. McClendon said no other players have had issues with the illness yet.

"Let's hope this is the end of it," he said.

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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