Felix will receive extra rest before next start
Mariners exercise caution by moving ace's turn from Sunday to Wednesday
KANSAS CITY -- The Mariners aren't taking any risks with Felix Hernandez and have decided to push back the ace right-hander's next start from Sunday to Wednesday. That will give Hernandez eight days' rest since he left his Labor Day start against the Royals for precautionary reasons due to a lower back cramp.
"He feels good and wants to start on Sunday, but we're going to be cautious with him," manager Eric Wedge said. "We want him to get some flat ground work, get another bullpen in. He understands. It's really not going to affect how many starts he gets."
Since the Mariners have decided on a six-man rotation coming down the stretch in September, the change won't prevent any starter from having an adequate amount of rest. Erasmo Ramirez will start on Sunday with the normal four days' rest and Taijuan Walker will go on Monday, followed by Joe Saunders on Tuesday and Hernandez on Wednesday.
Hernandez threw 105 pitches when he left his last start against the Royals after putting his hand near the left side of his back. Subsequent medical observation determined that it was merely a cramp sustained on a hot day.
Saunders part of Mariners' crowded outfield
KANSAS CITY -- Michael Saunders was back in the Mariners' starting lineup as the right fielder for Thursday's series finale against the Royals after coming off the bench in the previous two games.
Although Saunders has only played sporadically in recent days, manager Eric Wedge said that's simply a byproduct of trying to get playing time for a crowded outfield.
"I'd like to play everybody more than I am," Wedge said. "When you're balancing all these outfielders, it's a tough mix."
Wedge considers Saunders, 26, to be among a cluster of players who still have to prove they can be consistent at the Major League level.
"It's a fast food society. Everybody wants it yesterday," Wedge said. "You can make an argument that it has been one to three years and they should be there by now. Or you can make an argument that eventually they will get there.
"I think we've got a lot of guys who have a chance to be good ballplayers. I don't know if we have any superstars. That's probably a reach. But I think we have volume. We have more players who have a chance to be good, solid Major League players than maybe other organizations. That's what we're trying to develop."
Wedge mentioned Saunders and Dustin Ackley as two players who could figure prominently in the 2014 outfield picture.
"I think they are both capable of being everyday guys," Wedge said. "Can you lock and load on it right now? No. But do I think they can be everyday guys next year? I think they can."
Farquhar getting job done at closing time
KANSAS CITY -- It's still a relatively small sample size, but right-hander Danny Farquhar has held his own since moving into the Mariners' closer's role.
After recording the save on Wednesday night in a 6-4 win over the Royals, Farquhar had converted 12-of-13 opportunities. His only blown save was on Aug. 14 at the Tampa Bay Rays.
"He has the characteristics," manager Eric Wedge said. "He has the personality for it. He's kind of a veteran Minor League guy who is a little bit weathered and has had to go through some things. It has toughened him up a little bit and I think he has great perspective.
"With the way he is using all his pitches, that has kind of been the final piece for him. It has been a separator for him."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.