PEORIA, Ariz. – The care and concern over Felix Hernandez now extends from his valuable right arm to his right leg.
Hernandez has shin splints and the condition is severe enough that he has been scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.
That doesn’t mean it’s serious, though.
The Mariners are being ultra conservative with their 19-year-old star right-hander, to the point that any ailment gets presidential treatment.
Shin splints aren’t a serious condition, but they can cause considerable pain in the lower leg. Hernandez won’t be allowed to run for a few days in order to let the inflammation subside.
His right leg has been taped heavily from the ankle to below the knee the past two days, and the Mariners said there’s a possibility he will wear a walking boot.
Hernandez has pitched five exhibition games this month, going 1-1 with a 4.15 earned run average.
He’s scheduled to pitch April 7 at Safeco Field against the Oakland A’s.
Tuesday was to have been Hernandez’s final exhibition outing. The M’s plan to keep his workload to 200 or fewer innings this year, including spring training. He has pitched 14 innings so far.
Washburn ready: Jarrod Washburn has one more exhibition start before the season begins, although he wouldn’t mind cranking it up now.
“There are only so many bullets in the arm, but I need it to stay sharp and stay in a routine,” he said Sunday after pitching well in a minor league game.
Washburn, pitching for the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers, held San Diego’s Portland team to four hits and one earned run in six innings.
“I wasn’t real sharp with the slider, but for the most part, I felt real good,” he said.
Washburn, who threw 82 pitches, is scheduled to start April 5 at Safeco Field against the Angels.
The minor league game, at the Padres’ side of the Peoria Sports Complex, featured a smattering of major league talent. Closer Trevor Hoffman pitched the first inning for the Padres and Kenji Johjima caught Washburn.
“I requested to have him today just because I wanted to get one more turn working together before we get into games that counted,” Washburn said. “The most important thing I got out of it was to throw more pitches to Joh and get on the same page with him. I’m very impressed with his progress.”
The final push: With one week remaining before the season opener, Mike Morse isn’t looking over his shoulder or doing any math to see if he will fit the 25-man roster.
“You never do that,” said Morse, competing for one of the final roster spots as a backup infielder/outfielder. “You only control what you do on the field and let that stuff work itself out.”
Morse has played all three outfield positions, plus third and first base, during the exhibition season and has a .256 batting average after going 1-for-1 with a walk Sunday against the Angels. He’s competing with Greg Dobbs, Roberto Petagine, Cody Ransom and Jose Morban for a bench role.
“The last week of spring training is basically the start of the season,” Morse said. “You take everything you’ve worked on in camp and put it all together.
“The best thing is that I feel comfortable. I knew I would have to play a lot of positions, but I was wondering what was going to happen. But the longer camp went along and I was switching from left to right to third, the more I felt all right.”
Foppert optioned: One day after Jesse Foppert didn’t get anybody out in his start on Saturday, the Mariners optioned him to Class AAA Tacoma on Sunday.
He pitched in five exhibition games, going 1-1 with a 12.38 earned run average, walking 12 in eight innings. He walked three, hit a batter, gave up a hit and allowed five runs Saturday against the A’s, being pulled before he got an out in the first inning.
The move leaves 41 players in camp.
Of note: Hargrove said he would play his entire lineup in games Tuesday and Wednesday. “Then we’ll give them a couple or three at-bats the last three games before the season starts.” … Pitcher George Sherrill, sidelined last week with a stiff left shoulder, “should be ready in the next couple of days,” Hargrove said. … Greg Dobbs, who missed two games after being hit in the face by a ground ball, returned to the lineup Sunday as the DH. Dobbs, who had a bruised jaw and was experiencing headaches Saturday, is trying to make the club as a utility player and needs a strong final week of spring training. … Relief pitchers Eddie Guardado and J.J. Putz will pitch in a minor league game today. … The Mariners topped 100,000 in spring training home attendance on Saturday, making them the third Cactus League team to pass that mark. The Mariners have drawn 101,460 in 12 home dates, and it’s the eighth time in the past nine years they have gone over 100,000.
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