Seattle’s ace pitcher exited his last start in Texas in the sixth inning with stiffness in his elbow, but he says it’s fine now and he’s ready to go.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With two starts remaining and two wins needed to reach the 20-win plateau for the first time in his career, Felix Hernandez wants to pitch.
But to the Mariners, the overall health of their ace is more important than any personal achievement.
On Sunday, Hernandez exited his start in Texas in the sixth inning with stiffness in his elbow.
How was the elbow on Tuesday?
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“We’ll see how I feel after I play catch, I can’t really say anything right now, but I think it will be fine,” he said.
The catch session was a strong indicator that the elbow was as he expected. Hernandez and Roenis Elias had an extended session of throwing, which included several long tosses from a distance of more than 120 feet.
Asked if he woke up feeling any soreness on the Monday off day, he said, “No, no, no, not at all. It’s good.”
Hernandez is listed as the starter for Friday’s series opener in Anaheim against the Angels, and that hadn’t changed pregame.
“As we speak, yes, he is,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “He’ll do his normal routine. He will throw. If he’s ready to go, he’ll go. If he’s not, then he won’t go.”
Is there any way Hernandez could see himself not starting in Anaheim?
“Ain’t happening,” he said. “I’m good.”
For Hernandez, it’s not just about the 20-win plateau. He’s also at 1952/3 innings. The 200-innings mark is one he takes great pride in reaching. He’s done so for the last seven seasons. Hernandez is also at 185 strikeouts. He would need 15 more to reach 200 strikeouts. He’s recorded 200 or more strikeouts in his last six seasons.
With Hernandez scheduled to pitch on Friday and Hisashi Iwakuma slated to start on Sunday in the series finale, McClendon is still deciding on a Saturday starter.
“I will figure that out tomorrow,” he said.
The obvious candidates are Taijuan Walker or Vidal Nuno. The Mariners skipped Walker’s last start to control his overall innings total. He wants to pitch again. Nuno was abysmal in his last outing in Texas.
• Nelson Cruz isn’t going to play in the outfield for the series in Kansas City, and probably not for the rest of the season.
Cruz suffered a quad strain on Sept. 2 in Houston while running the bases. He missed seven games before returning to the lineup. The injury has healed enough for him to play, but not enough for playing in the field.
Asked whether the next time Cruz plays the outfield would be April, McClendon said, “It might be. I would think so.”
He said he was satisfied with Cruz’s outfield play this season.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he played an average right field for us,” McClendon said. “Any ball he gets to, he catches. He’s not the fleetest of foot, but if he can get to it, he catches it.”
• Logan Morrison was not with the team on Tuesday. He was back in Seattle with his wife, Christie, for the birth of their first child — a girl named Ily Sophia — early Tuesday morning. She measured 8 pounds and 19.5 inches.
McClendon said that Morrison will miss the next couple of days to be with his wife and daughter before rejoining the team.
“Everybody is doing great,” McClendon said.
• Coming into Tuesday’s game, Kyle Seager was batting .402 (35 for 87) with eight doubles, six homers and 20 RBI in his last 22 games.