Felix gives a thumbs up after playing catch

Felix Hernandez played catch and did his normal stretching with the team before tonight’s game in Anaheim and gave a big thumbs up and “bueno” to manager Eric Wedge as he left the field, which should be a good sign for his ability to return to the rotation by this weekend.

Hernandez, who tweaked his back in his last start Friday in Chicago, will throw again Thursday when the team returns to Seattle and a decision will made Friday on his next start. Wedge said the best-case scenario would be a Sunday start against the Dodgers.

But if there is any uncertainty, he’ll be held until at least Tuesday against the Padres.

Hernandez felt some soreness in his lower back in the third inning against the White Sox and then was replaced after giving up a pair of home runs in the fifth inning. He was scheduled to start Wednesday night against the Angels, but Hector Noesi is starting that game on three days’ rest instead.

With Thursday’s off day, the Mariners can continue skipping Hernandez for the time being without causing any problems with their rotation. Kevin Millwood will start Friday on his normal fifth day, having last thrown Sunday in Chicago.

Jason Vargas, who won his seventh game of the season Monday in Anaheim, will also stay in his normal five-day routine by starting Saturday.

Sunday’s starting is being listed as TBA for now. If Hernandez is fully recovered, he’ll start the 1:10 p.m. series finale. If not, Blake Beavan would slide into that spot on his fifth day, having last pitched Tuesday against the Angels.

Here’s tonight’s lineup in the series finale against the Angels, who are going with right-hander Jerome Williams:

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Dustin Ackley 2B
Kyle Seager 3B
Jesus Montero DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Michael Saunders CF
Miguel Olivo C
Mike Carp LF
Brendan Ryan SS

Hector Noesi RHP

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