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McClendon expects Felix to make next start

Ace right-hander tweaked left ankle in Saturday's loss to Red Sox
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez uncharacteristically walked three batters in the sixth inning of Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox after tweaking his left ankle, but manager Lloyd McClendon said Sunday his ace shouldn't have any problem making his next scheduled start Friday in Toronto.

McClendon said he didn't think the 29-year-old will need to take any added precautions this week with the ankle, which he originally twisted in his second start of the season in Oakland on April 12. The soreness is believed to be more of a nagging issue than a problem that will affect Hernandez, who is 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA in eight starts.

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SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez uncharacteristically walked three batters in the sixth inning of Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Red Sox after tweaking his left ankle, but manager Lloyd McClendon said Sunday his ace shouldn't have any problem making his next scheduled start Friday in Toronto.

McClendon said he didn't think the 29-year-old will need to take any added precautions this week with the ankle, which he originally twisted in his second start of the season in Oakland on April 12. The soreness is believed to be more of a nagging issue than a problem that will affect Hernandez, who is 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA in eight starts.

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"I think he's going to be just fine," McClendon said. "He's [twisted the ankle] before, but he assured me that was not the reason. He just didn't pitch good."

McClendon and trainer Rob Nodine went to the mound to talk to Hernandez after he stepped awkwardly on his second pitch of the sixth inning to Pablo Sandoval, but he stayed in the game and gave up two go-ahead runs before being replaced in the seventh after throwing 101 pitches.

Hernandez insisted the ankle had nothing to do with his loss of command that inning, which was just the eighth time in his 11-year career when he's walked three in the same frame.

"He's only human," McClendon said. "We think he's Superman sometimes, but he's only human."

• Center fielder Austin Jackson will be eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday when the Mariners open a nine-game road trip in Baltimore, but McClendon said the 28-year-old wouldn't quite be ready after playing his first rehab games with Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday and Sunday as he returns from a sprained right ankle.

Jackson went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored a run in Tacoma's 4-0 victory over Las Vegas on Sunday at Cheney Stadium while playing center field and is hitting .286 (2-for-7) in his first two rehab starts.

"He's got probably a little bit more to do," McClendon said. "He's been out over two weeks. As much as we'd like to have him back, we need to be cautious with it."

• McClendon didn't start outfielder Seth Smith on Sunday as he elected to go with right-handers Rickie Weeks and Justin Ruggiano against knuckleballer Steven Wright. But he said the lefty Smith will be back in the lineup regularly after Monday's off-day.

"Seth has done a great job," McClendon said. "I called him in last night and said I wanted to give him two days. He's been grinding it out pretty good, but this is a chance to give him two days to get his legs back under him. I told him, after that I'm not sure when he's coming out of there again."

After Monday, the Mariners play 36 of the next 37 days.

• When Brad Miller posted the fifth two-homer game of his career on Saturday, he became the 10th Major Leaguer since 2005 with at least five multi-homer games in the first 250 games of a career. The others are Prince Fielder, Chris Young, Carlos Quentin, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales, Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce and J.P. Arencibia.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez