Hernandez put on DL with muscle strain in right arm

Updated: April 23, 2007, 11:26 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Starting Pitcher
Seattle Mariners

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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 Triple-A 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.

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Hernandez will play catch again on Tuesday 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."

Asked if he was relieved that the injury wasn't more serious, he said, "To feel no pain in my elbow? I was really happy."

Manager Mike Hargrove said the Mariners considered keeping Hernandez on the active roster so he could return sooner but the team decided placing him on the 15-day DL was the best option.

"With the schedule he had as far as playing catch and bullpen sessions, we looked at 14 total days anyway," Hargrove said. "If we didn't do this [put him on the DL], we would have had to send out a position player or one of our bullpen pitchers. This made more sense."

Baek was 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts with Tacoma. Last season, Baek went 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA in six starts with the Mariners during August and September.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press