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Felix returns to throwing in forearm rehab

Mariners ace struck by line drive in spring debut
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's no timetable yet on his return, but Felix Hernandez was out playing catch on the practice field briefly on Tuesday and that was a welcome sign for the Mariners.

The longtime Mariners ace has already missed one start since taking a line drive off his right forearm in his Cactus League debut on Feb. 26 and was not in the rotation again for what would have been his third outing of the spring this Thursday.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's no timetable yet on his return, but Felix Hernandez was out playing catch on the practice field briefly on Tuesday and that was a welcome sign for the Mariners.

The longtime Mariners ace has already missed one start since taking a line drive off his right forearm in his Cactus League debut on Feb. 26 and was not in the rotation again for what would have been his third outing of the spring this Thursday.

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But the 31-year-old right-hander threw 20 easy pitches to bullpen coach Fleming Baez before Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to Colorado, and he said everything felt great.

"It feels good," Hernandez said. "I'm happy with it. Now I have to go day by day. They want me to take it easy, but I can't do that. It's not my thing."

Video: SEA@CHC: Felix exits after being hit by comebacker

It took a week for the swelling to get out of his upper forearm, but Hernandez said he has full flexibility back now and will likely progress to about 30-35 throws on Wednesday and keep building his arm back up.

Hernandez is shooting to be fully ready by Opening Day, but he acknowledged he's not sure yet when exactly he'll be ready to take the mound again for his next spring start.

"I don't know," he said. "The first thing is nothing happened with my elbow. I just want to be healthy. I don't want to feel anything, now timing is everything and after that I'll be fine."

Injury update

• Right fielder Mitch Haniger took batting practice on Tuesday for the first time since camp opened and he could be back playing in games by the end of this week as he's finally been given the full-go after resting a sore hand since the start of camp. MRI tests last week revealed only inflammation, Haniger said.

• First baseman Ryon Healy, recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from his right hand, hit off a tee for the first time Tuesday and could begin taking batting practice in the next three to four days. Manager Scott Servais said he's progressing well and "has an outside chance to get some at-bats under his belt and be ready for Opening Day."

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• Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, out since Feb. 17 with a strained lat muscle, is "healing up nicely," according to Servais, and could be cleared to start throwing later this week. Servais acknowledged it will be a challenge to get Ramirez ready by Opening Day, but the Mariners could buy some time by going initially with four starters since the club has four off-days in the first 15 days of the season.

• Reliever Nick Vincent threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday and is tentatively scheduled for his spring debut on Friday against the Giants after being held back by a sore arm early in camp.

Rotation news

Left-hander Ariel Miranda, who figures to be competing for a rotation berth if Ramirez isn't ready at the start of the season, threw extremely well in a 40-pitch outing against Minor League hitters on Monday and will move back into Cactus League action on Saturday when Seattle travels to Goodyear to face the Reds.

"He made some adjustments with his breaking ball, trying a different grip," Servais said. "The results were very good. I know all the pitching guys here were all really encouraged by it and Miranda was as well."

With both Hernandez and Ramirez sidelined, the Mariners have settled into a five-man rotation for now of James Paxton, Mike Leake, Marco Gonzales, Rob Whalen and Miranda.

Gonzales makes his third start of the spring on Wednesday night vs. the A's, Whalen gets his second start in place of Hernandez on Thursday night vs. the Giants and Paxton travels to Scottsdale on Friday for a day game against the Giants.

Then it's Miranda on Saturday in Goodyear and Leake on Sunday back in Peoria against the Reds.

Up next

Gonzales has been impressive in his first two spring outings and the 26-year-old southpaw will progress to four innings when he faces the A's on Wednesday in a 5:40 p.m. PT contest at Peoria Stadium. David Phelps will look to follow up on his own strong debut with a one-inning relief stint, with Marc Rzepczynski and Chase De Jong also slated to throw out of the bullpen. The game will be available on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez