SEATTLE -- Félix Hernández on Thursday threw his first full bullpen session since suffering a setback during a rehab assignment last month that stalled his return to the Mariners’ rotation.
Hernandez, who hasn’t pitched since May 11 after suffering a Grade 1 right lat strain, said that he threw 25 pitches that mostly consisted of fastballs, as well as some changeups. He estimates that he’ll need to throw at least one more bullpen, then a simulated game before likely going on a rehab assignment.
“He'll continue to put a little bit more into it as he gets going, using all of his pitches,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We'll build up his pitch count from there. Good report. Felix has been feeling really good here ever since he came back from the break. He's kind of energized. He wants to get back out there and pitch.”
Before he was placed on the injured list, Hernandez -- who is in the final season of a seven-year, $175 million contract -- was 1-4 with a 6.52 ERA in 38 2/3 innings over eight starts. This is his 15th season in the Majors, all of which he’s spent with the Mariners.
Strickland to begin rehab assignment
Hunter Strickland will pitch for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday, then join the Rainiers for two games when they travel to Reno on Tuesday and Wednesday. His hope is to return to the Mariners before the end of their 10-game homestand that concludes next weekend against the Tigers.
“Everything feels really, really good,” Strickland said on Friday. “I don’t feel any limitations with any of my pitches. I’m ready to get back out there.”
With just over two months remaining on his one-year, $1.3 million contract, Strickland should help stabilize what’s been a shaky Mariners bullpen during the season’s final stretch. Seattle relievers have posted a 5.18 ERA (fourth-worst in the Majors), given up 72 homers (third-worst) and allowed a .788 OPS (eighth-worst). Strickland has made just three appearances this season, and none since March 29 when he blew a save against the Red Sox.
“When the season started, certainly we had visions of him being the back-end guy, the guy that we go to in the eighth or ninth innings, particularly the ninth inning was going to be his role,” Servais said. “We'll ease him into that. I don't want to say first time out there, here's a save. It could happen.”
Other injury updates
• Right-handed reliever Brandon Brennan (right shoulder strain) pitched for Tacoma for the second straight night on Friday and recorded a scoreless inning with one hit and two walks. He tossed a scoreless sixth inning on Thursday. Throwing on back-to-back days is typically the final benchmark for relievers before returning from the IL.
• Infielder Ryon Healy (spinal stenosis) has backed off his baseball activities after some parts of his body were still bothering him. Healy is recovering at the club’s Spring Training facility in Peoria, Ariz.
• Right fielder Mitch Haniger (ruptured testicle) is playing catch and hitting off a tee, but he’s not yet running or lifting weights at a strenuous level.
• Outfielder Braden Bishop (lacerated spleen) has accelerated his rehab to hitting in the cage and playing catch. The club is hopeful that Bishop could participate in live batting practice next week, then at some point, begin a rehab assignment.
• Right-handed reliever Austin Adams (right shoulder strain) is playing catch at 105 feet. He’ll need to stretch his arm out to 120 feet before throwing a bullpen session. Adams, who had been Seattle’s best reliever, going scoreless in 16 of his 22 outings before being shelved on July 6, will need a rehab assignment before returning.
• Right-handed reliever Connor Sadzeck (right elbow inflammation) also remains in Peoria, where he is playing catch but not yet throwing off a mound.