Mariners Update

Felix the AL starter? Nobody knows

Manager Don Wakamatsu would love to see Mariners ace Felix Hernandez start for the American League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in St. Louis.

He even sent an e-mail this week to Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, who’ll manage the AL, asking “if there’s any information you need from me.”

That wink-wink nudge-nudge went unanswered.

Zack Grienke of the Royals is 10-5 with a 2.12 ERA, the best numbers of the starters on the AL staff, while Hernandez is close at 9-3, 2.53. Grienke last pitched on Wednesday.

The All-Star Game falls on Hernandez’s normal pitching schedule, five days after his last start on Thursday.

Wakamatsu said any way Hernandez is used in the All-Star Game won’t affect his rotation after the break. Hernandez is scheduled to pitch the second game after the break, Friday at Cleveland. Brandon Morrow will pitch the opener at Cleveland on Thursday.

“I haven’t talked to Joe (Maddon) about his usage, but that is his day to throw,” Wakamatsu said. “I am sure we will have some dialogue about (Hernandez starting). It’s whatever Joe wants to do, but I think he should be a strong candidate, yes.”

Sweeney update

Injured DH Mike Sweeney had his back examined by a spine specialist and it was determined he won’t have a magnetic resonance imaging exam.

“We’re not sure the MRI would show anything conclusive,” Wakamatsu said. “Where we are now, he will just rest it. I think once we come off the (All-Star) break, he will be ready to come off the DL and be ready to go.”

Sweeney went on the 15-day disabled list Monday, a day after he was pulled from a game in Boston because of back spasms. It’s the third time this season he has missed time because of a back issue.

Sweeney, who has two degenerative discs in his back, was examined by spine specialist Dr. Stan Herring.

Of note

With Betancourt traded to the Royals, Wakamatsu said there’s little chance of second baseman Jose Lopez moving to third. The Mariners had considered playing Betancourt at second in order to keep Ronny Cedeno at short. “We are still going to have (Lopez) take ground balls over there at third, but I don’t forsee it,” Wakamatsu said. … Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games with his RBI double in the first inning. … Thursday’s game, when the Mariners held the Rangers to three singles, was the first time in 97 games between the teams that the M’s had held Texas without an extra-base hit. Joel Pineiro, Ron Villone, Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Eddie Guardado held the Rangers to six singles on April 18, 2004. … The Rangers’ starting pitcher for Sunday officially was listed as TBA Friday, although it’s likely to be right-hander Dustin Nippert, 0-0 with a 7.36 ERA. … Actor Jim Caviezel, a Mount Vernon native, took batting practice Friday afternoon with the Mariners. … New University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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