MARINERS UPDATE: Hernandez will continue rest

Felix Hernandez has long maintained that he prefers to pitch every fifth day, and Saturday’s game — working on his sixth day because of the Mariners’ off day on Thursday — seemed to back that up as he struggled with his command. He allowed seven runs (four earned) in 6 1/3 innings.

Afterward, Hernandez said he felt “too strong” because of the extra day.

Despite that, the Mariners have no plans to juggle the rotation in order to have Hernandez pitching every fifth day in his next two starts. With two more off days — Thursday and next Monday — Hernandez will make his next two starts with an extra day of rest, manager Daren Brown said.

“The biggest thing is that we’re going to take care of him,” Brown said. “We have to remember he’s 24 years old. It may seem like he’s been pitching for 10 years, but that’s not the case.”

The Mariners are keenly aware of Hernandez’s place in the stretch drive of the Cy Young Award race and that he feels sharpest with a regular four days between starts. But they also don’t want to overwork his still-young arm and prefer to get him an extra day between starts when they can. Hernandez is sitting on 225 2/3 innings this season and on his way to going well above his career-high 238 2/3 innings last year.

He’ll pitch Friday against the Rangers and Sept. 23 at Toronto on an extra day of rest. His final two starts, Sept. 28 at Texas and Oct. 3 at home against Oakland, will be on regular rest.

“The ultimate thing is that we want to take care of him,” Brown said. “He’s a very important part of what we’re doing as we move forward.”

Mariners fire pro scouting director

The Mariners announced Monday, with little elaboration, that pro scouting director Carmen Fusco has been dismissed. The club said that Fusco, hired on Nov. 10, 2008, would not be retained after this year and decided to dismiss him effective immediately.

Fusco, in his 36th year in pro baseball, was responsible for all of the organization’s pro scouting. As part of that, his duties included providing scouting reports and information on players from other organizations that the Mariners consider in trade possibilities.

A KING-5 TV report Sunday night, based on information from an anonymous source, said Fusco’s firing was connected to the acquisition of minor league pitcher Josh Lueke in the Cliff Lee trade to the Texas Rangers in July. Lueke pleaded no contest last year on a charge of false imprisonment with violence in connection with a rape and sodomy case involving a woman in 2008.

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong said shortly after the trade that he hadn’t been made aware of Lueke’s off-field history. A report last week in the Seattle Times said general manager Jack Zduriencik was told about Lueke’s background well before trade was completed.

Wet celebration

The Mariners arrived back at Safeco Field after their flight from Anaheim on Sunday in time to see the end of the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers’ victory over Sacramento to clinch their first-round playoff series.

Several current Mariners who played with the Rainiers earlier in the season joined in the on-field champagne celebration. It was a proud moment for Brown, too, because he managed the Rainiers before being named the Mariners’ interim manager Aug. 9.

Brown decided to wait until the Rainiers were finished with their champagne-spraying on the field, mostly to avoid getting his suit and tie from getting wet. So he ducked into the Safeco Field visitor’s clubhouse, where champagne wasn’t allowed because the Red Sox would need that room on Monday, and the players greeted their former skipper warmly.

The suit didn’t stay dry.

“They were all dripping with champagne when they came in, and I got a lot of wet hugs,” Brown said.

Of note

While the bigger wave of minor league callups won’t arrive until after the Rainiers end their playoff run, look for one addition today. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz will join the Mariners after finishing this season with Class AA West Tennessee, where he batted .282 with five homers and 35 RBI in 68 games. One who isn’t likely to come up is catcher Rob Johnson, who’s on the disabled list with the Rainiers because of a bruised hand. Johnson, who had surgery on both hips last winter, also has dealt with leg issues this season. Brown said outfielder Milton Bradley continues to bounce back well from knee surgery but he doubted Bradley would play before the end of the season. The Mariners announced they have renewed their player development agreement with the Class A High Desert Mavericks for two more years. From the “what will you do this offseason” file, Brown will be in a rush to get home to Amarillo, Texas, after the Mariners’ final game Oct. 3. His wife, Cindy, is due with their first child (a girl) two days later.

Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer

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