Hernandez Nears Return, Walker Goes To DL

Kristie Rieken, AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) — The Seattle Mariners received good and bad news for their rotation on Wednesday.

Ace Felix Hernandez pitched a simulated game and will soon leave for a rehabilitation assignment. But his progress came on the same day that the Mariners sent fellow starter Taijuan Walker to the disabled list with a lingering problem with his right foot.

Walker left his start on Tuesday night with tendinitis his right foot. It was the third start Walker exited early with the same problem. Manager Scott Servais said the Mariners aren’t sure exactly what the plan will be for Walker’s recovery, but that he will be visiting a specialist soon.

“What we’re seeing is not good and is probably not in his or our best interest to kind of just keep running him out there,” Servais said.

Walker is 4-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 16 starts this season.

Hernandez, who has been on the disabled list since June 1 with a strained right calf, threw 45 pitches to Shawn O’Malley before Wednesday night’s game.

“It was pretty good to be back and face some hitters,” Hernandez said. “It felt really good.”

He said that he threw all his pitches and was happy that he didn’t feel any discomfort in his calf during the session. He didn’t get many swings, but thought that was good because he was throwing strikes.

Hernandez said he’ll throw about 60 pitches for Class A Everett on Sunday. Servais isn’t sure if his pitch count will be that high.

“His numbers are a little bit bigger than ours,” Servais said. “Sixty might be a little aggressive. But we’ll see. I’d like to get him up and down four times if we can.”

If that goes well, he’ll throw at Triple-A Tacoma on July 15 and return to Seattle’s rotation on July 20.

“I feel strong. I feel really good. I think it’s fresh right now,” Hernandez said of his arm. “I can’t wait to be out there again.”

This is the third time in his career that Hernandez has been on the disabled list and his first stint since 2008. He hates sitting out and has struggled dealing with his layoff.

“I was going crazy when I was at home but now that I’m here and almost ready, I’m happy with it,” he said.

Hernandez is 4-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 10 starts this year.

Also on Wednesday, the Mariners active catcher Jesus Sucre from the 60-day disabled list and transferred catcher Steve Clevenger to the 60-day disabled list. They also recalled left-hander David Rollins from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned catcher Mike Zunino there.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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