PEORIA, Ariz. — Felix Hernandez and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw are each starting Tuesday — both against Colorado. How’s that for a tough split-squad doubleheader?
The Rockies’ troubles aside, the starts by Hernandez and Kershaw line them up for a potential marquee match-up Sunday when the Dodgers play the Mariners at Peoria Stadium.
Only it won’t happen.
Hernandez’s start Sunday will come on a practice field on the Mariners’ side of the Peoria Sports Complex against a collection of minor-league players.
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Manager Lloyd McClendon doesn’t want the Dodgers to get an advance look at Hernandez before the two clubs play April 13-15 in Los Angeles.
“We’re playing them so early,” McClendon said. “I just don’t want them to see Felix.”
Barring rain in Oakland, the schedule doesn’t appear to line up for a Hernandez/Kershaw match-up in April — if the two aces, as expected, start the season openers.
McClendon, apparently, isn’t taking any chances. He is opting for a similar approach Thursday with Hisashi Iwakuma, who won’t make the trip to Mesa to face Oakland.
The Mariners and A’s play a three-game series from April 10-12 in Oakland before heading down the coast to Dodger Stadium.
“He’s pitching on the back field as well,” McClendon confirmed. “I don’t want them facing teams that we’re going to play early. I don’t like doing that. I’ll take any kind of edge we can get.”
Iwakuma could be in line to face the A’s in April, depending on where he slots in the Mariners’ rotation. Even if he doesn’t, the teams play 19 times as division rivals.
“And they just need to build up (arm strength and endurance),” McClendon said. “I don’t think they’re trying to make the club.”
STAYING AT SHORT
Shortstops Brad Miller and Chris Taylor flipped infield roles Tuesday as Miller shifted to second base for the game against Colorado at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.
Taylor started at second base in Monday’s 4-3 victory over Cleveland.
McClendon said the move stems from Robinson Cano’s absence from camp following his grandfather’s death in the Dominican Republic. Cano is expected to return Friday to camp and start Saturday against Arizona.
Neither Miller nor Taylor is expected to play much at second once Cano returns. Nor is either likely to play much at second at Triple-A Tacoma if they fail to make the club.
“I think they would be shortstops,” McClendon said. “If one of them is not here, I can’t imagine they’ll go down and play second.”
That suggests shortstop Ketel Marte is likely to shift to second for the Rainiers. Marte ranks No. 3 on the TNT’s Top 10 prospect list.