Muscle strain sidelines Mariners ace for 15 days

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Elbow and forearm pain lands Felix Hernandez on the disabled list.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Seattle Mariners placed ace right-hander Felix Hernandez on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, shelving their hard-throwing 21-year-old until at least May 4.

Hernandez left his start Wednesday night against Minnesota after getting just one out. He allowed three runs, walked two, threw a wild pitch that scored a run, then waved trainers out to the mound to remove him from the game. Hernandez was diagnosed with a muscle strain inside his right elbow and forearm, and was kept from throwing for five days.

Hernandez threw from 75 feet for eight minutes on Monday as Seattle opened a two-game series in Texas, then was put on the DL, retroactive to April 19. Seattle recalled right-hander Cha Seung Baek from Class AAA Tacoma to start Monday night against the Rangers.

"Felix was expected to miss about 10 days. Even in our best-case scenarios, the earliest we had him pitching was May 2," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. "This move will not materially change the schedule on Felix and, hopefully, removes any pressure he may feel to try and rush back."

Hernandez is scheduled to start on May 4 against the New York Yankees in Seattle. He'll be limited to 85 pitches in that outing.

Hernandez was dominant in his first two starts, allowing four hits in 17 scoreless innings, including a one-hitter in Boston. Hernandez was lauded by team physician Dr. Edward Khalfayan for pulling himself from the game against Minnesota, saying if Hernandez had continued to pitch with the strain, he could have stressed the elbow so severely he would have required elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

Hernandez will play catch again today and on another day, then have three or four bullpen sessions before returning to the rotation.

"I felt pretty good today," Hernandez said on Monday night. "No pain. But I didn't feel too strong. I was nervous. I had to just relax and not throw too hard."

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