With the Mariners having to wait until at least next month to see what Lee can do, Hernandez will continue to resume his role as staff ace.
Hernandez takes the mound for the second time Saturday when Seattle continues a three-game series against the Texas Rangers.
Hernandez (0-0, 4.05 ERA) enjoyed the best season of his career last year, going 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA and 217 strikeouts. However, Seattle acquired Lee from Philadelphia in hopes of winning the AL West for the first time since 2001.
The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the 15-day disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle, and after throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session Friday, the Mariners don’t expect him back until at least May.
Until then, Hernandez will try to get struggling Seattle (1-4) moving in the right direction. He was shaky against Oakland on Monday, giving up three runs and issuing six walks over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 win.
“Felix was awfully strong tonight and had a lot of emotion,” manager Don Wakamatsu told the team’s official Web site. “It’s a tough thing to take your ace out of the ballgame, but he worked hard tonight.”
Hernandez was 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA against the Rangers last season. He’s looking to win his fifth straight start against them.
In the series opener Friday, Jason Vargas(notes) pitched 5 1-3 innings, giving up five runs and eight hits in a 6-2 loss. The Mariners had six hits, but were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and are hitting .199 so far.
“The whole game boiled down to what’s happened the last five games, which is lack of offense and lack of situational hitting,” Wakamatsu said. “These guys are going to hit at some point and we hope it’s soon.”
While the Mariners’ offseason additions have done little, the Rangers (2-2) received another productive outing from theirs in Vladimir Guerrero(notes), who had two hits and is batting .600. Nelson Cruz(notes), meanwhile, homered for the third time in four games, finishing with three hits.
Texas’ official Web site reported Harrison lost 30 pounds heading into spring training. He earned one of the final rotation spots after going 2-0 with a 5.14 ERA in three starts and two relief appearances.
“This is the best feeling I’ve had playing baseball,” Harrison said.
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three starts against the Mariners. Ichiro Suzuki(notes) had two hits Friday after starting the season 3 for 15, and is 4 for 9 lifetime against Harrison with a double and a triple.