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M's hope to lighten load on rotation

The Sports Xchange

In an effort to both prepare for the future and take some innings off his most productive starters, Seattle manager Eric Wedge is looking at going with a six-man rotation for the final month of the season.

The first priority is to take some of the workload off ace Felix Hernandez, who has thrown 200 1/3 innings and is on pace to match his 2010 total of 249 1/3 innings. With the Mariners not in the race, Wedge doesn't see the need to push Hernandez any harder than necessary, which is one reason why the team's ace pitched just six innings in Wednesday's 9-2 win over Cleveland.

Second up is rookie Michael Pineda, who made the team out of spring training and is in the midst of his first 162-game season. The 22-year-old already has thrown 147 innings, more than he'd ever pitched in a season.

Another rookie, Blake Beavan, had 168 innings last year in his second full professional season. He's thrown 58 2/3 with the Mariners this year, and with another 93 at Class AAA Tacoma, he's going to reach a career high.

Left-hander Jason Vargas, who at 28 is the only starter of the bunch over 25, threw 192 2/3 innings last year to set a career best. At his current pace and in a five-man rotation, he'd come in at 205.

The bottom line is that there will be extra opportunities for two other rookies, Charlie Furbush and Anthony Vasquez.

"What we need to do is kind of take it day to day to get to September and then go from there," Wedge said. "We still have some off days, so we'll pick and choose how we want to handle these guys.

"Obviously, everybody is well aware of Pineda. We have some other young pitchers. And hopefully in September, we can add a couple guys."

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