SEATTLE -- As Felix Hernandez sat at his locker following Saturday's injury-shortened start against the Yankees, he had a familiar visitor.
Former Mariners teammate and close friend Franklin Gutierrez was hunkered down with the veteran right-hander after coming to Safeco Field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the annual Salute to Latin American Beisbol Night.
"He's been talking to me about the hamstrings," Hernandez said with a wry smile.
Gutierrez battled hamstring and muscle issues for much of his seven-year career in Seattle, so he certainly brings some knowledge on the topic. Hernandez was pulled from Saturday's game with no outs in the fifth after his right hamstring continued tightening up throughout his start.
The issue raises further questions about Hernandez's difficult 2018 season, but manager Scott Servais said Sunday that he expects the 32-year-old to remain in the rotation, though his next outing might be pushed back slightly.
"I talked to Felix a little after the game last night. We'll see when we slot him back in," Servais said. "He might need an extra day, but he doesn't feel like he'll be down for a week or two weeks or anything like that."
With Marco Gonzales slated to come off the 10-day disabled list to start Tuesday's game against the Padres, the Mariners have six starters to spread over the final 20 games. Wade LeBlanc will start Wednesday's series finale against San Diego and Mike Leake and James Paxton are tentatively lined up to face the Angels on Thursday and Friday to open the team's final 10-game road trip.
Hernandez's spot would come up on Saturday, but he easily could be replaced by Erasmo Ramirez, who would already have an extra day of rest following his Sunday start against the Yankees due to an off-day on Monday.
Cano's foot not an issue
Robinson Cano was removed from Saturday's game after being hit in the left foot by a Dellin Betances breaking ball in the ninth inning, but that issue turned out to be minor and Cano was back in the lineup for Sunday's series finale.
Servais did replace struggling third baseman Kyle Seager with utility man Kristopher Negron, who got his first start since being acquired from the D-backs in a cash trade on Aug. 30. The club would like to get a look at Negron at various infield positions over the final games to see what the 32-year-old offers.
Seager has hit just .129 with no home runs in 62 at-bats over his last 18 games and Servais wanted to give him and second baseman Dee Gordon the day off against Yankees lefty Carsten Sabathia. Seager is 3-for-23 with 10 strikeouts in his career against the veteran southpaw.
"It gives Negron a chance, we haven't seen him play yet," Servais said. "He can play everywhere, so it'll afford us an opportunity to give some guys a day off here and give some of these other guys a chance to play and keep everybody fresh as we get to the end of the season."
Negron spent most of the season in Triple-A for the D-backs, but started one game on June 5 in right field for Arizona. He's posted a career line of .216/.297/.338 in 115 games with the Reds and D-backs while starting games at second, short, third and all three outfield positions.
• The Mariners are still planning on calling up a player or two from Double-A Arkansas once its playoff run ends. The Travelers were playing in the deciding game of the Texas League Division semifinals on Sunday. Relievers Matt Festa and Nick Rumbelow are likely candidates for promotion as both are on the 40-man roster and have pitched for Seattle earlier this year.
• Veteran reliever Juan Nicasio is rehabbing now from clean-up surgery on his right knee and should be 100 percent ready by the start of Spring Training, Servais said.