HOUSTON — Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez dismissed any concerns Tuesday that a sore groin muscle, which prompted his removal from Monday’s game, will prevent him from making his next scheduled start Saturday at Anaheim.
“Oh, yeah, I’ll go,” he said. “For sure. I’m fine. I’m good. I’m ready to go.”
Hernandez came up limping on a play in the fourth inning Monday when he broke late from the mound on a grounder to first base. He completed the inning and worked a one-two-three fifth inning before exiting as a precaution.
Immediately after Monday’s game, Hernandez said he saw no reason to believe he wouldn’t be ready for his next start, but manager Scott Servais, prior to Tuesday’s game, seemed to cast doubt on the King’s availability.
“I’m hoping he can make his next start,” Servais said. “We’ll just have to wait and see when he gets out and starts moving around. He does feel it a little bit today. I’m still hopeful that he’ll make his next start, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Any doubts should be removed — or reinforced — for others Wednesday when Hernandez throws in a regular between-starts bullpen workout. For his part, Hernandez is already certain.
“A little tape,” he said. “A little wrap. And I’m ready to go.”
Injured Mariners left-hander Drew Smyly remains on a six-to-eight week recovery program after receiving a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection Tuesday on his injured elbow.
“Our timeline hasn’t changed,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “Six weeks until he begins throwing. Eight until we anticipate we can make a better judgment on when he will rejoin the club.”
Dipoto announced the medical update shortly after the Mariners transferred Smyly to the 60-day disabled list to create room on their 40-man roster for reliever Evan Marshall, whom they acquired in a waiver claim from Arizona.
Smyly complained of a sore elbow following a March 28 bullpen workout in Peoria, Ariz., and, after being diagnosed a few days later with a strained flexor in his elbow, sought a second opinion.
“The findings were consistent,” Dipoto said, “with what we learned when Dr. (Edward) Khalfayan saw him.”
A PRP injection contains several different growth factors that are designed to stimulate the healing of soft tissue.
“He will join us in Seattle to begin a rehab,” Dipoto said. “He’ll have five-to-seven days of rest to recover from the PRP injection. Then we’ll take it from there.”
The Mariners acquired Smyly, 27, from Tampa Bay in a Jan. 11 trade for three minor-league players: outfielder Mallex Smith, infielder Carlos Vargas and left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough.
Smyly is a five-year veteran who was 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA last season for Tampa Bay while making a career-high 30 starts. The Mariners see him as a good fit as a fly-ball pitcher because of their improved outfield defense.
“We gave up a package of players to get him,” Dipoto said last week, “with the idea that this guy really fits our ballpark, our team — and he fits us for more than 2017. So we want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing for Drew.”
The Mariners recalled lefty Ariel Miranda from Triple-A Tacoma after Smyly’s injury. Miranda will make his season debut Thursday in the conclusion to a four-game series against the Astros.
Mariners claim Marshall
The moves never stop.
The Mariners acquired right-handed reliever Evan Marshall in a waiver claim Tuesday from Arizona and immediately assigned him to Triple-A Tacoma, which begins its season Thursday at Sacramento (Giants).
“He provides further depth and still has an option,” Dipoto said. “He was quietly a solid under-the-radar setup guy in Arizona back in ’14 but has struggled to regain that form.”
The Mariners cleared space for Marshall on their 40-man roster by shifting Smyly to the 60-day disabled list.
Marshall, 26, is a seven-year professional who split last season between Triple-A Reno (1-1 with a 4.59 ERA in 33 games) and the Diamondbacks (0-1, 8.80 in 15 games).
“He’s healthy,” Dipoto said, “not quite 27, still bumps 96 (mph) with a heavy sinking fastball while still producing high ground-ball rates. We’ll see if a change of scenery helps him.”
Marshall was a fourth-round pick by Arizona in the 2011 MLB Draft who compiled a 2.74 ERA in 57 appearances as a rookie in 2014. He is 4-7 with a 4.50 ERA overall in 85 big-league games over parts of three seasons.
While pitching for Reno on Aug. 4, 2015, Marshall was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of El Paso’s Jason Haggerty. The ball was traveling an estimated 105 mph when it struck Marshall.
“I never saw the ball, but I knew it was coming,” Marshall recounted a few weeks later after recovering. “Damage was being done with the pressure that was building in the skull.
“They got me opened up and they relieved the pressure really fast and stopped the damage from being done. The speed of which they did everything is what prevented the damage from being done. I was minutes away from not making it.”
Left-hander Dillon Overton is expected to rejoin the roster Thursday after taking a three-day paternity leave. His wife, Morgan, gave birth Tuesday to the couple’s first child, a healthy boy.
MLB rules limit paternity leave to a maximum of three days.
The Mariners plan to clear space for Overton by returning right-hander Chase De Jong to his optional assignment to Triple-A Tacoma. De Jong was recalled Monday to replace Overton.
Three things to watch in Wednesday’s pitching matchup between James Paxton and Houston’s Charlie Morton:
— Paxton is 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA in four career starts against the Astros, but that victory came in his final start last season at Minute Maid Park. Morton is in his 10th season and had made 162 appearances, including 161 starts, but the Mariners are one of four teams that he’s never faced. The others are Toronto, Oakland an Pittsburgh.
— Jose Altuve and George Springer are each 3-for-12 in their career against Paxton, but two of Springer’s hits are home runs. Springer has also struck out three times against Paxton.
— Jean Segura is just 3-for-22 in his career against Morton. The only other current Mariner with more than three career plate appearances against Morton in Carlos Ruiz, who is 1-for-4 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Third baseman Kyle Seager played in his 847th game Monday as a Mariner, which moved him past Dave Valle for 10th place on the franchise’s all-time list. Next up for Seager is Jose Lopez at 873 games. The all-time leader is Edgar Martinez at 2,055. … Monday’s shutout loss was the fourth in franchise history on opening day. The last one was April 1, 2003 in a 5-0 loss at Oakland. That club went on to win 93 games. … Former Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger turns 31 on Wednesday.
It was 39 years ago Wednesday — April 5, 1978 — that Hall of Fame outfielder Joe DiMaggio threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Mariners’ season opener against Minnesota at the Kingdome.
Craig Reynolds’ two-run homer in the second inning helped the Mariners build an early three-run lead before Enrique Romo closed out a 3-2 victory for Glenn Abbott by pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Mariners and Astros continue their four-game series at 5:10 p.m. Wednesday at Minute Maid Park. Lefty James Paxton (6-7 with a 3.79 ERA in 2016) will face Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (1-1, 4.15 with Philadelphia).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network, including mariners.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv).