Felix plans to start Saturday, but McClendon waits to commit

Felix plans to start Saturday, but McClendon waits to commit

LOS ANGELES -- Felix Hernandez is on schedule to start on Saturday, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon will wait to see how his ace's tender right quadriceps muscle feels in a throwing session on Wednesday before finalizing Seattle's pitching plans for this weekend's series against the Rangers at Safeco Field.

Hernandez was removed after five innings on Sunday in Oakland after feeling some tightness in his leg. He also twisted his ankle in the first inning and said that affected his performance as he allowed three runs on eight hits with just one strikeout in his second start of the season.

"He played catch yesterday and felt fine," McClendon said prior to Tuesday's game with the Dodgers. "He'll throw tomorrow, and we'll make a decision. I don't foresee any setbacks, but I just want to cover myself."

Hernandez indicated he still feels some soreness in the quad muscle and he's still receiving treatment.

"My ankle is fine," he said. "My ankle is better than my leg."

But the 29-year-old said he fully expects to pitch on Saturday, and McClendon indicated that was his plan as well "as we speak," though he noted the Mariners have off-days the next two Thursdays, which provides some flexibility if he needs to skip a start with any of his hurlers.

If the Mariners stay in rotation, J.A. Happ will pitch Friday's series opener against the Rangers, followed by Hernandez on Saturday and James Paxton on Sunday. Hisashi Iwakuma would open the Astros series on Monday, followed by Taijuan Walker on Tuesday. But with the off-day Thursday, it would be possible to skip Hernandez and still keep the rest of the starters on a normal five-day rotation.

Hernandez has been one of baseball's most durable pitchers over the course of his career. He's started 30 or more games for nine seasons in a row and pitched 200-plus innings each of the last seven.

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.