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After successful sim game, Felix headed to Tacoma

Right-hander reports no issues, targeting weekend of June 16-18 for MLB return
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- After 5 1/2 weeks on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, Felix Hernandez has just one goal in mind.

"I just want to pitch," the Mariners veteran right-hadner said Friday after throwing two innings of a simulated-game situation with teammates Carlos Ruiz, Boog Powell and Mitch Haniger taking turns in the batter's box. "It felt good. I had no problems at all. I threw everything."

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SEATTLE -- After 5 1/2 weeks on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, Felix Hernandez has just one goal in mind.

"I just want to pitch," the Mariners veteran right-hadner said Friday after throwing two innings of a simulated-game situation with teammates Carlos Ruiz, Boog Powell and Mitch Haniger taking turns in the batter's box. "It felt good. I had no problems at all. I threw everything."

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Though the Mariners haven't confirmed it yet, Hernandez said he expects to make the first of two Minor League rehab starts on Tuesday for Triple-A Tacoma at Cheney Stadium against Reno. The tentative plan is to throw four innings in that start, six in another outing and then potentially rejoin the Mariners at the end of their upcoming road trip in Texas on June 16-18.

Manager Scott Servais sounded a little more cautious on that projection, however, saying "Felix would pitch tomorrow if he could," and noting the final schedule will be mapped out in the coming days.

"It was OK," Servais said of Hernandez's simulated innings. "There's still a little rust to kick off the tires, but it was about what I expected. He still has a ways to go, but it didn't look like his arm was bothering him at all."

Hernandez was 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA in his first five starts this season before going on the DL for just the second time since 2008. He also missed seven weeks last year with a strained calf.

Hernandez is one of three starters still on the disabled list, with James Paxton returning on Wednesday. Hisashi Iwakuma will throw a bullpen on Saturday and is about a week behind Hernandez, according to Servais.

Left-hander Drew Smyly is still in the flat-ground throwing portion of his recovery process as he works back from a strained elbow that has sidelined him since Spring Training. He's likely looking at a July return if all goes well.

Worth noting

• Haniger, who has also been sidelined since April 25 with a strained oblique in his right side, only tracked pitches when he stood in the box against Hernandez. But he took batting practice with the club later in the afternoon and will head out on a Minor League rehab stint early next week if things continue to progress this weekend.

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

Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez