The back is better.

But erring on the side of caution, the Mariners won't return Felix Hernandez to the mound until Tuesday, when he will start against the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said before the game Friday night against the Dodgers that Hernandez "feels really good" after resting the back since having last pitched June 1 at Chicago.

Hernandez allowed four earned runs in five innings against the White Sox that day, his shortest outing of the year. He said afterward his lower back was sore.

He didn't start against the Angels last weekend, but has reported feeling better in recent days.

The Mariners had left the starter for the game Sunday as "TBA" in case Hernandez could make it back in time. Wedge said Hernandez "could definitely" start Sunday but that regardless of going Sunday or Tuesday he would get just six more starts between now and the All-Star break.

"So it makes more sense to take the cautious route and give him until Tuesday," Wedge said.

Hernandez likely will throw a bullpen session Sunday.