PEORIA, Ariz. — Nothing is official, but the Mariners already appear to have their rotation lined up for the regular season.
Felix Hernandez is starting Saturday against the Cubs in Mesa and is, in manager Lloyd McClendon’s words, “99.9999 percent” likely to start the opener on April 6 against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
So draw your own conclusions from this:
James Paxton will follow Hernandez and start Sunday against Texas at Peoria Stadium. Hisashi Iwakuma will pitch Monday in a simulated game to avoid facing the Angels in Tempe.
Erasmo Ramirez will replace Iwakuma as the starter against the Angels. (McClendon wants to keep Iwakuma away from LA prior to the season-opening series.)
J.A Happ is slotted for Tuesday’s game against San Diego at Peoria Stadium, and Taijuan Walker’s next start will be Wednesday night against the Cubs at Peoria Stadium.
A Hernandez-Paxton-Iwakuma-Happ-Walker alignment would provide the Mariners with a right-left-right-left-right mix.
Walker isn’t a yet a lock.
Lefty Roenis Elias started Friday against the Rangers and is next scheduled to pitch Thursday in a split-squad game against Kansas City in Peoria. Hernandez will face Milwaukee on Thursday in Maryvale.
Elias’ schedule could still be adjusted to permit him to be the fifth starter.
ACKLEY AT FIRST?
Left fielder Dustin Ackley might need to dig his first baseman’s glove out of his bag, McClendon indicated, because Rickie Weeks hasn’t yet been able to log time at the position.
“I’m not making any promises (about Weeks playing first),” McClendon said. “One thing I will say is Ackley played first base in college. He’s pretty adept at it. I talked to him about doing it as well.”
Ackley hasn’t played first base since logging 14 1/3 innings as a reserve n 2013. He started five games at first in 2012.
Rickie Weeks is expected to return Saturday to the lineup if he recovers as expected from a mild illness. McClendon said: “He was a little dehydrated (on Thursday). Throwing up. He’s going to get some at-bats (Friday) on the Triple-A side. Take it easy, and we’ll get him back in there (Saturday)…Left-hander Andrew Carraway, who spent much of the last three seasons at Tacoma, has retired. Carraway, 28, was 51-33 with a 4.48 ERA in six pro seasons following his selection in 12th round of 2009 draft.