Felix set to make next start against Angels

Ace says right elbow tightness in his last outing isn't an issue

Felix set to make next start against Angels

KANSAS CITY -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez said he awoke on Tuesday morning and immediately flexed his right arm to test his elbow. But don't think that's any huge reason for alarm.

"I test it every day," Hernandez said with a grin. "It's fine now."

Hernandez was removed from Sunday's start in Texas after 105 pitches and 5 2/3 innings when he felt some tightness in the elbow, but both Hernandez and manager Lloyd McClendon said there was no indication the right-hander will need to miss his next scheduled start this weekend against the Angels.

"We'll see [how it feels] after I play catch," Hernandez said upon arriving in the Mariners' clubhouse prior to Tuesday's series opener with the Royals. "I can't say anything right now, but I feel fine."

Any chance Hernandez might miss his next outing?

"It ain't happening," Hernandez said. "I'm fine."

The 29-year-old is pushing to get to 20 victories for the first time in his career and, at 18-9 with a 3.54 ERA, Hernandez would need to win against the Angels and in his finale against either the Astros or A's in the season-ending homestand to pull that off.

Hernandez also needs 4 2/3 innings and 15 strikeouts to reach 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the seventh straight year, which would tie him with Walter Johnson and Rogers Clemens for second in MLB history behind the nine of Tom Seaver.

Hernandez is tentatively scheduled to start on Friday against the Angels, a plan that remained intact "as we speak" on Tuesday, according to McClendon.

But McClendon has yet to name a starter for Saturday and could give Hernandez an extra day, and go with either Vidal Nuno -- or possibly Taijuan Walker if he chose to give him one more start -- on Friday.

"Whatever he says," Hernandez said. "I'll be ready."

There's also a chance, of course, that Hernandez feels some soreness when he throws this week. He was slated to play catch on Tuesday and Wednesday, then throw a flat-ground session on Thursday, which is when the ultimate answers will emerge.

"He'll do his normal routine," McClendon said. "He will throw. If he's ready to go, he'll go. If he's not, he won't."

Hernandez didn't appear to have any issues with his Tuesday session, however, playing catch with teammate Roenis Elias and extending out to about 150 feet for long toss without any problems.

Worth noting
• First baseman Logan Morrison and his wife, Christie, had their first child, a baby girl named Ily Sophia Morrison, on Tuesday morning in Seattle, according to McClendon. Morrison flew home in time to be present at the birth and will likely miss another game or two before rejoining the club.

Nelson Cruz's right quadriceps remains too sore to allow him to play right field and McClendon indicated Cruz might just serve as the designated hitter the remainder of the season. Cruz has started 80 games in right, while Tuesday was his 62nd at DH.

McClendon said he'd probably go with a similar plan next year.

"He did a nice job out there," McClendon said. "It didn't surprise me that he played an average right field for us. Any ball that he gets to, he catches. He's not the fleetest of foot, but if he gets to it, he catches it.

"I like the idea of being able to rotate the DH spot. I don't want a full-time DH because it doesn't allow you to get other guys off their feet and keep their bat in the lineup."

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