ANAHEIM – Felix Hernandez won’t make another start until after the All-Star break. The Mariners’ erstwhile ace has been dealing with lower back issues the last few outings since tweaking it in a workout in Baltimore. On Tuesday, he was placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to his previous start Friday.
With the All-Star break coming up, the Mariners decided to use it to their advantage, shutting him down now in an effort to get Hernandez’s back healthy and ready for the second half of the season.
“We sat down with Felix on Sunday, just looking ahead, his back has been an issue the last couple times out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We certainly appreciate his effort trying to pitch through it. This was a chance for us to pull back. We’ve got the All-Star break and we’ll keep him off the trip and let that calm down and he’ll work out and we’ll get him right back in rotation coming out of the break.”
Hernandez, 32, is 8-7 with a 5.13 ERA (60 ER, 105.1 IP) in 19 starts with the Mariners this season. His 19 starts are tied for most in MLB.
“Again, we’re playing for the long haul here,” Servais said. “When we came into the season, we felt if we got 28, maybe 30 starts out of Felix it would be a great year. He’s ahead of pace for that. This is about allowing his back to calm down and also rejuvenating him here as we go into the second half.”
While the pain didn’t stop him from pitching in last two starts, the back issues wouldn’t allow him to do his work in between starts. And was starting to become an issue.
“I think you saw it affecting the finish on some of his pitches, just not getting down the mound and he wasn’t quite as sharp the last couple times out because of it,” he said. “We just want to be proactive instead of reactive and it gets worse and here we go. He’s ok with hit. He’s not excited about it, but we’re trying to do what’s best for the long haul.”
As of now, Hernandez’s scheduled start on Thursday is listed as “To Be Announced.” With the off day on Monday, the Mariners could pitch James Paxton on Thursday on normal rest. But they will call up a starting pitcher to make a start on either Thursday or Friday.
“We’re not sure yet,” Servais said. “We’ve talked about some different options. We certainly need somebody to come in and make a start, whether that’s Thursday or Friday, we’re not quite sure yet.”
The Mariners recalled right-hander Nick Rumbelow from Class AAA Tacoma to take his spot on the roster. Hernandez was scheduled to pitch on Thursday vs. the Angels, but the Mariners will likely use a spot starter instead.
Seattle also made another roster move, optioning outfielder John Andreoli to Class AAA Tacoma and recalling infielder Gordon Beckham. With interleague games coming up in Colorado, Beckham’s versatility could be useful. Andreoli isn’t need with Mitch Haniger back to full health.
“Haniger is feeling better in the outfield and Beckham and (Andrew) Romine can run in the outfield, along with the guys we’ve got,” Servais said. “We thought that was a better use of that roster spot and covers us in the infield as well if we’ve got issues. So we brought him up. Gordon has been around. He fits in our clubhouse great. The guys know him and trust him. He’s a part of our team. He just hasn’t been with us the whole year, but hopefully we can get him in the next few days and he can help us out.”