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04/18/07 11:00 PM ET

Felix removed with elbow tightness

Ace will be reexamined Thursday after precautionary move

SEATTLE -- Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners' 21-year-old ace, left the mound in the first inning on Wednesday as a precautionary measure due to tightness in his right elbow.

After throwing a 2-1 fastball to Minnesota's Justin Morneau on his 24th pitch, Hernandez called out the medical staff. The trainer, manager Mike Hargrove and the entire infield quickly surrounded Hernandez on the mound. He was removed and replaced by left-hander Jake Woods.

Hernandez was off to a dazzling start this season. He had allowed just four hits and no runs in his first two starts (17 innings), both victories. He was seeking the club record for scoreless innings to open the season at 17 2/3, but the Twins put him into immediate trouble.

Luis Castillo and Jason Tyner opened with singles, and Hernandez walked Joe Mauer to load the bases. Then pitching coach Rafael Chaves visited him on the mound. Whatever might have been bothering Hernandez he didn't mention it to Chaves, or he likely would have been removed at that point.

On his ensuing pitch, Hernandez bounced a breaking ball into the dirt for a wild pitch. Castillo scored and the other runners advanced. Mike Cuddyer then drove in Tyner on a groundout to second. After his low-and-inside fastball to Morneau, Hernandez took a couple steps toward the Mariners' dugout and motioned for the trainer.

Hernandez will be reexamined Thursday.

Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.