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Originally published July 5, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Page modified July 5, 2011 at 10:56 PM

M's ponder how to juggle Michael Pineda's starts | Mariners Notebook

Michael Pineda could skip a key series against the Texas Rangers after the All-Star break, depending on what he does during his days off...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Next five

Wednesday @ Oakland, 12:35 p.m., ROOT | Vargas (6-5, 3.57) vs. Moscoso (2-4, 2.51)

Thursday @ L.A. Angels, 7:10 p.m., ROOT | Fister (3-9, 3.02) vs. Weaver (10-4, 1.92)

Friday @ L.A. Angels, 7:10 p.m., ROOT | Beavan (1-0, 1.29) vs. Santana (4-8, 3.89)

Saturday @ L.A. Angels, 6:05 p.m., ROOT | Pineda (8-5, 2.58) vs. Pineiro (4-3, 3.90)

Sunday @ L.A. Angels, 12:35 p.m., ROOT | Hernandez (8-7, 3.22) vs. Haren (9-5, 2.65)

For the record: W-L 43-43; W PCT .500; Streak: W3 Home: 23-22 Road: 20-21 vs. AL West: 11-9 vs. L.A.: 3-2 vs. Oakland: 6-3 vs. Texas: 2-4 vs. AL East: 11-8 v. AL Cent: 12-17 vs. NL: 9-9 vs. LHP: 8-14 vs. RHP: 35-29 Day: 11-14 Night: 32-29 One-run: 16-15 Extra inngs.: 5-3

quotes Pineda deserves to be an All-Star It sure would be helpful if the Mariners moved... Read more

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Michael Pineda could skip a key series against the Texas Rangers after the All-Star break, depending on what he does during his days off.

It's still possible the rookie right-hander could be added to the American League squad because Felix Hernandez will pitch Sunday for Seattle and thus be ineligible to participate in Tuesday's Midsummer Classic in Phoenix.

If Pineda replaces Hernandez and pitches in the All-Star Game, the Mariners are considering skipping him in the Texas series and using him instead during an ensuing trip to Toronto.

There is an off-day between the series against the Rangers July 14-17 at Safeco Field, and the one in Toronto July 19-21, which would allow the team to delay Pineda's second-half debut even further.

An extended break between starts is one way the team could ease the 22-year-old's workload so he can continue pitching through September if his club stays in the race.

"Ultimately, we want to make sure we utilize that (All-Star) break as best we can for all five guys," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said about the team's rotation. "We haven't made any final decisions with that, but we have an idea."

One downside to pushing Pineda back would occur if he travels to Phoenix but doesn't pitch in the All-Star Game. If that happens, it would be at least a 10-day break between live outings for him.

"Here's the fine line," Wedge said. "You want to give him some extra time. But you don't want to give him too much extra time. You want him to stay in sync. You don't want him to get too far removed from that. So, that's what we're trying to balance."

Notes

• Pineda on Monday became the first Mariners rookie to notch 100 strikeouts before the break. The next closest is Mark Langston, who fanned 84 before the All-Star Game during his rookie season, 1984. Pineda is only the fourth rookie pitcher in the majors to accomplish the feat in the last 10 seasons.

• Left-hander Erik Bedard joined the team in Oakland and is to start throwing again soon, so he'll be ready to be activated off the disabled list following the break. Wedge tentatively has Bedard scheduled to pitch the third or fourth game of the series against the Rangers.

• Catcher Miguel Olivo played his first game in a week on Tuesday after sitting out with a sore hamstring. Wedge wouldn't comment on the team's plans regarding third catcher Jose Yepez, saying he wanted to see how Olivo got through Tuesday's game.

Yepez, 30, hasn't played since being promoted from AAA Tacoma last week after backup catcher Chris Gimenez and Olivo got hurt in the same game. Gimenez is now on the 60-day disabled list and Josh Bard has assumed primary backup duties.

• Seattle's bullpen entered Tuesday having not allowed a run over 16 innings dating to June 24. The relief corps had limited opponents to a .158 batting average with 13 strikeouts and three walks during that stretch.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners

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