Get ready, Tacoma. Long-time Mariners ace Felix Hernandez says he’ll begin his minor-league rehab assignment June 6 by pitching for the Rainiers at Cheney Stadium.
Hernandez pitched two simulated innings — facing hitters and taking a break to "simulate" innings — early Friday afternoon at Safeco Field in the latest step in his recovery from bursitis in his shoulder.
"It was good," he said. "I feel great. No problems at all. I’m happy with it."
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Hernandez said the next step is to throw 60 pitches over four innings for Triple-A Tacoma at 6:05 p.m. Tuesday against Reno (Diamondbacks). It will be his first game action since April 25 at Detroit.
The Mariners have not confirmed plans for Hernandez, although that could come as soon as Saturday, once they determine he avoided any day-after problems from the simulated game.
Outfielder Mitch Haniger could join Hernandez next week in Tacoma. Haniger is testing his recovery from a strained right oblique muscle this weekend by taking part in batting practice and other pre-game workouts.
Tentative plans call for Hernandez to make two rehab starts. The second one lines up to be June 11, also at Cheney Stadium, when the Rainiers conclude a seven-game homestand by playing Las Vegas (Mets) at 1:35 p.m.
A normal progression for that second rehab start would be roughly 80 pitches over six innings and, barring setbacks, put Hernandez in position to return June 16 to the Mariners’ rotation for the start of a three-game series at Texas.
Haniger might require only a few games on a rehab assignment to regain his timing before returning to active duty. If so, he could be activated before the Mariners conclude their 11-game homestand on June 11.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners