CHICAGO -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will have his next start pushed back a day to Friday against the A's at Safeco Field as manager Lloyd McClendon adjusts his rotation prior to the All-Star break.
Hernandez originally was on schedule to face the Twins on Thursday in the upcoming seven-game homestand, but McClendon said it makes more sense to have his standout face the division-leading A's. Thursday's starter against the Twins hasn't been announced, but the club could either make it an all-bullpen day or recall Erasmo Ramirez or another pitcher from Triple-A Tacoma for that start.
"I just want to line up my best pitcher against Oakland," McClendon said. "I want [Hernandez] pitching against them, so it made sense to make that adjustment. And it also gives him an extra day so he can pitch on a sixth day. All the stars just lined up, and it made sense to do that."
The move also would line up Hernandez to pitch in Tuesday's All-Star Game in Minneapolis on three day's rest, and then be ready to open the second half on Friday, July 18, against the Angels in Anaheim.
"That also came into play," McClendon said. "Not to say I'd set precedence for the All-Star Game over what we're trying to accomplish, but when we're lining things up, it so happens to be where if he did pitch an inning or two in the All-Star Game, it's probably good for him, because it keeps him sharp a little bit. All of that came into play when we decided to do this."
But the bottom line?
"You want your best pitchers facing your division rivals," McClendon said. "Those are the guys in front of us. I'd be foolish if I didn't want Felix facing Oakland and Anaheim."
McClendon said he won't send rookie Roenis Elias or any of the other starters down to the Minors for a start over the All-Star break to keep them fresh, even though Elias -- who is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Twins -- would be facing an 11-day break before pitching again the following week.
"I think the rest is probably good," McClendon said. "He'll play catch, like the rest of them will play catch over the break. Then when we come back, he'll be slotted right in."