Mariners adjust pitching plans for Felix, Iwakuma

Mariners adjust pitching plans for Felix, Iwakuma

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Veteran right-handers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will both pitch simulated games against Minor League hitters later this week in their second outings of the spring as manager Lloyd McClendon looks ahead to regular-season matchups.

Iwakuma would have been slated to face the A's on Thursday in Mesa, Ariz., and Hernandez lined up against the Dodgers on Sunday in Peoria for his second Cactus League start. But with Seattle facing both clubs in its first road trip of the regular season in April, McClendon will avoid giving the opposing hitters extra work against his aces.

"I just don't want them facing teams we're going to play early," McClendon said. "I don't like doing that. Any type of edge we can get by not having them face them early is good. They just need to build up [innings]. I don't think they're trying to make the club."

It doesn't appear Hernandez will actually line up to face the Dodgers in the early Interleague series, however. He'll pitch Opening Day against the Angels on April 6, then face the A's on either April 11 or 12, depending on how Seattle uses a first-week off-day on April 9. Either way, Hernandez wouldn't line up for his next start until the Mariners return home to face the Rangers the following weekend.

Iwakuma, however, could face the A's in his second regular-season outing on April 12 if the Mariners use the off-day to go with a four-man rotation and keep their top starters pitching every fifth day to start the season.

The simulated games on Thursday and Sunday will be held in the mornings, prior to each day's Cactus League contests.

James Paxton, slowed by a bruised right forearm in the initial weeks of camp, is scheduled to throw the first of his two live batting practices on Wednesday in preparation for his Cactus League debut on March 17 against the White Sox in Glendale, Ariz.

• Newly signed right-hander Kevin Correia was scheduled for a bullpen session on Tuesday, and he will gradually be worked into the mix among the starting candidates after he agreed to a Minor League deal on Monday.

"He's behind the eight-ball a little bit as far as competing for a spot, but you never know," McClendon said. "We'll see how fast he can get going. He's a veteran pitcher that's had success. I like him. We have to get him healthy and get him going. He knows how to pitch. He knows what he's doing and can give you quality innings. We'll see."

• Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was held out of game action again Tuesday as he recovers from a sore groin muscle. "He'll get his workout in," said McClendon. "We're just trying to give him a couple days, and hopefully, he'll feel better and we'll get him back out there."

• Seattle's pitching plans for upcoming games: Erasmo Ramirez will start Wednesday against the Rockies in Peoria, with Danny Hultzen and Tom Wilhelmsen to make their first appearances of the spring in relief. Jordan Pries gets his second start on Thursday against the A's in a noon PT game in Mesa. J.A. Happ follows on Friday in a home game against the Brewers at 1:05 p.m., followed by Taijuan Walker's third start of the spring on Saturday vs. the D-backs in Scottsdale, Ariz., at 1:10 p.m.

• With Robinson Cano not expected back in camp until Friday due to the death of his grandfather in the Dominican Republic, McClendon penciled shortstop Brad Miller in at second base on Tuesday against the Rockies, with Chris Taylor at shortstop. The two were flip-flopped the other way in Monday's game as McClendon looks to get the two shortstop competitors equal time in the early going.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.