ARLINGTON -- A decision on whether Felix Hernandez will start Sunday's regular-season finale at Safeco Field could be made as early as Thursday.
The Mariners' ace right-hander wants to face the Athletics, but he already has pitched more innings -- 249 1/3 -- than anyone in the American League this season, and the organization wants to make sure its best pitcher stays healthy.
"I would assume that there will be a meeting at some point tomorrow, before the game or after the game," interim manager Daren Brown said.
"It won't go up until last day and then run him out there. Felix will know what we are going to do. He will either go, or not go."
General manager Jack Zduriencik, pitching coach Carl Willis, Hernandez and Brown would all be involved in making the decision.
"It's important that we have people there that can throw out different scenarios," Brown said. "It's also important to have Felix involved so he can hear everything being said, one way or the other."
Hernandez made it crystal clear after Tuesday night's 3-1 victory over the Rangers that he would start on Sunday and finish off what has been the best season of his young career. He has set career highs in virtually every pitching department, except wins.
His 13-12 record could have a huge impact in the AL Cy Young Award voting, and although 14-12 doesn't look much better, another typical Felix outing could help his chances of winning the coveted award.
"I understand all about individual achievements and I like to give a player every chance to reach his individual goals for the year," Brown said, "but I think you also have to be smart about your decision, and a lot of things come into that.
"There might be some things I haven't thought of, and when you have three or four people in the room, you can come up with enough things so we won't miss anything."
Brown also understands why Hernandez is so adamant about wanting to make his 35th start of the season.
"We all know Felix. He's competitive. If it's his time, he is going to want to be out there. I understand that, and to be honest, I love that. That's what you love about Felix. He wants to compete. He wants to be out there facing hitters."
Whether or not King Felix has faced his final hitter in 2010 will soon be determined.
Seattle's Lopez hopes to play final series
ARLINGTON -- Mariners third baseman Jose Lopez, who dislocated the middle finger on his right hand while trying to field a ground ball on Tuesday night, said he hopes the digit heals fast enough for him to play during the final series of the regular season.
"It feels better today, and I think maybe I can DH on Saturday or Sunday," said Lopez as he soaked the finger in a paper cup prior to Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Rangers.
Lopez said he knew immediately that the finger was dislocated and not broken by a ball Nelson Cruz hit at him in the sixth inning.
He walked off the field and into the training room, where the finger was put back into place.
"Lopey came back into the dugout with his glove asking if there was a re-entry rule," interim manager Daren Brown said. "It's a little sore today, and I don't see him playing in the field for the next five days.
"Making throws would be a little bit painful. One thing we can do is wait a couple of days and see if he can swing a bat. We might be able to DH him in the next few days."
Felix not one to rely on scouting reports
ARLINGTON -- Most starting pitchers huddle with their catcher before games to go over a game plan for the opposing lineup.
Not Felix Hernandez.
Felix raised at least one set of eyebrows on Tuesday night when he said he never looks at the opponents' lineup posted inside the clubhouse.
"He doesn't care about the lineup," interim manager Daren Brown said.
Hernandez pitches to his strengths instead of the hitters' weaknesses, and it has worked out just fine. The Mariners' ace leads the American League in virtually every pitching category and is one of the favorites to win the AL Cy Young Award despite having a 13-12 record.
Brown said Hernandez does a good job of watching the opponents the night before he pitches and has been around the league enough to know most of the hitters.
"When they send a guy up there who has been called up from the Minors, it doesn't matter. Felix knows how he is going to pitch him."
Brown said he learned a few years ago that Felix really doesn't care who he's facing.
"I was managing [Class A] San Bernardino when we got a heads-up that Tim Salmon would be in the game on a rehab [assignment]," Brown recalled. "I gave them [Rancho Cucamonga] a heads-up that Felix would be pitching for us."
Salmon, a mainstay on the Angels' teams, was working his way back from injury.
"Felix struck him out twice and I read in the paper the next day that Salmon said he wasn't prepared to see stuff like that," Brown said. "But that's Felix. He doesn't care who he's facing."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.