SEATTLE -- Michael Pineda had never thrown more than 139 1/3 innings in a season before this year, but the 22-year-old figures to cap out around 170 this season based on the Mariners' plans for his final month.
Pineda is at 153 innings through 25 outings and the rookie will make three more starts in the season's final month.
Pineda will start this Saturday in Oakland on six days' rest. He'll then go again the following Saturday, Sept. 10, at Safeco Field against Kansas City before wrapping things up on the road in Minnesota on Sept. 21, according to the schedule laid out by pitching coach Carl Willis.
"Carl has done a great job mapping this out," manager Eric Wedge said. "It's not an easy thing to do. You talk about me with lineups, well, him with that starting rotation and trying to map it out and accomplish what we need to accomplish and be where we need to be at the end, that's a nice puzzle, too.
"We started this a long time ago and have tried to stay as close to that bar as possible. And I think in the end it's going to play out OK."
Pineda has won only once in his last eight starts since July 4, leaving him 9-8 with a 3.71 ERA. But the American League All-Star has looked strong his last two outings, and the Mariners aren't worried that he's tiring, but more that they want to keep him at their projected innings limit.
"We want to make sure he's as good as he can be next year, too," Wedge said. "Ultimately you have to recognize what he's done the last couple years, where he's at now and where we want him to be next year."
Visit with veterans humbling for Mariners trio
SEATTLE -- Fewer than 12 hours after helping the Mariners beat the Angels, 5-3, on Monday night, Mike Carp, Dustin Ackley and Josh Bard witnessed another side of life as they visited the Seattle Veterans Administration Hospital as part of Major League Baseball's Get Well Tour.
Carp, who crushed a game-winning home run in the eighth inning of that win, said it was good to put things in perspective as the trio spent an hour meeting with veterans as well as doctors and nurses who work with them.
"All those veterans served our country and they don't want to be in there, but it was nice to be able to go in and thank them for their service and take pictures and sign autographs and just talk," said Carp, 25. "This game gives us so much, it's nice to be able to give back sometimes.
"There's a lot going on in the world and I've got a lot of friends who've served in the military and I spent a lot of time in the VFW back home with my grandfather," Carp said. "It's nice to just say thank you for representing our country, something we take for granted while we play baseball every day. It means a lot."
Bard, 33, had made several similar visits to the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., while playing for the Nationals. He said the experience is always a good reminder that there's a lot more to life than what is going on in a baseball clubhouse.
"Anytime you get to go help some people who provided the service so we're able to do what we do, it's great," Bard said. "We met some really cool people there. A couple older folks, people from Korea and Vietnam. We went to the spinal cord section, so obviously it's a humbling experience.
"You just try to brighten their day a little bit and, as with most of those situations, they're usually the ones who end up brightening yours."
Bard said there was another humbling aspect to the visit.
"As usual, the Moose was the biggest hit," he said with a laugh. "That's where we know we have to play better, because the Moose is the most popular and one of our bobbleheads [Larry Bernandez] is a fake guy."
Mariners making impact on AL rookie rankings
SEATTLE -- The Mariners aren't just playing a lot of youngsters, they're getting remarkable production out of them in recent weeks.
Heading into Tuesday's game against the Angels, Seattle had the three top rookies in the American League on-base percentage rankings for players with a minimum of 150 at-bats with Dustin Ackley (.365), Mike Carp (.348) and Casper Wells (.335).
Ackley and Carp were tied for second among AL rookies in batting average at .291, with Wells 10th at .257.
Carp also was tied with Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo for first for the top rookie slugging percentage (.484), with Wells fourth (.471) and Ackley sixth (.465).
Manager Eric Wedge talked Sunday about how the rookies would need to adjust as opposing teams began learning and attacking their weaknesses, with a recent rough patch by Ackley serving as a prime example.
But Ackley went 3-for-3 in Monday's 5-3 win with a double and triple, so the 23-year-old clearly is learning quickly in his first season in the Majors as pitchers have probed for a hole in his swing.
"It's been tough," Ackley said. "Especially the last week or two, they've been going hard in and soft away. I've had to find my spots where I can get a pitch and hit one. Most of the time I'm just not getting a pitch to hit. When you do, you can't miss it. Here lately I've been missing some and it hasn't quite been working out the way I wanted."
Ackley obviously is hard on himself, however. Even though he's played only 62 games, having waited until mid-June for his promotion, the former North Carolina All-American is already fourth on the Mariners in extra-base hits with 24 in 230 at-bats.
The only Seattle hitters with more extra-base hits are Justin Smoak (35), Miguel Olivo (30) and Adam Kennedy (29), and each of those players has at least 348 at-bats.
Ackley's on-base percentage of .365 is the highest among all the Mariners, while Carp tops the team in slugging percentage.
Infielder Chone Figgins did some extensive running and sliding under the watchful eye of trainer Rick Griffin on Tuesday as he attempts to come back from a hip flexor injury that has him on the 15-day disabled list.
Manager Eric Wedge said Figgins would be examined by the medical staff on Tuesday night before a decision is made on when to send him to Triple-A Tacoma to begin a rehab stint.
First baseman Justin Smoak began his own rehab stint in Tacoma on Monday and went 0-for-1 while walking and getting hit by a pitch in six innings. The plan is for him to DH a full game Tuesday night for the Rainiers, then go another nine innings in the field Wednesday before heíll likely return to the Mariners.
When Tom Wilhelmsen earned his second Major League win in relief Monday, it raised the Mariners total of wins by rookies to 19 this season. That's the most in the Majors, with the next closest being 16 by the Braves, Royals, Yankees and Rays. The club record for rookie wins is 34, set in 1999.
Rosters can be expanded on Thursday with September callups, and Wedge said the Mariners likely will bring up between one and three players on Thursday and perhaps a couple more when Minor League seasons end.
Wedge wasn't naming names, but one logical addition would be veteran reliever Shawn Kelley, who has thrown eight consecutive scoreless innings of relief for Tacoma as he continues looking sharp in his return from elbow surgery. The Mariners' bullpen currently stands at six while the club goes with a six-man starting rotation, so adding depth there makes sense.