Felix cleared to start on schedule Saturday

FelixMarch4Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will make his next start on schedule Saturday against the Rangers at Safeco Field, despite a sore quadriceps muscle in his right leg that cut short his last outing.

Hernandez threw a flat-ground session on Wednesday, but manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t bother waiting for that workout to proclaim the 29-year-old fit for duty this weekend when the Mariners return home.

“My conversation with Felix is he’s fine,” McClendon said. “He’s ready to go.”

That means the Mariners will stay in order with their initial rotation. Fifth-starter J.A. Happ is lined up for the series opener on Friday against new Rangers right-hander Yovani Gallardo at 7:10 p.m. PT.

Hernandez will take the hill on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. PT against right-hander Colby Lewis, with James Paxton drawing the series finale Sunday at 1:10 p.m. PT against Ross Detwiler in a duel of lefties.

Hernandez was taken out of his last start after five innings when his right leg tightened up. He stretched the quad muscle while reaching for a throw to first on a double-play earlier in the game on a pop up caught by Mike Zunino after he’d hustled over to cover the bag when Zunino and first baseman Logan Morrison pursued the ball in foul territory.

The A’s racked up eight hits and three runs off Hernandez in his five frames and he departed with a 3-0 deficit, but Seattle came from behind for an 8-7 win in 10 innings. Hernandez is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his first two starts.

The Rangers series kicks off a nine-game homestand for Seattle. If the Mariners continue staying in rotation, Hernandez will then pitch Friday, April 24, against the Twins before facing Texas again on the road on April 29.

• Zunino jammed his left wrist on the game-ending tag attempt at the plate in Seattle’s 7-6 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday, but said he felt fine on Wednesday and was back in the lineup for the series finale. Zunino has played in all of Seattle’s first nine games, including eight starts, but McClendon said the young catcher will be fine with the team having two off days in the next eight days.

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