PEORIA, Ariz. - It wasn't fair, but then facing Felix Hernandez rarely is.
Hernandez needed the work, the Seattle Mariners didn’t want him facing the division rival Texas Rangers, so he wound up on the mound against minor league hitters Sunday.
Hernandez struggled early – struggled to throw enough pitches
Pitching coach Carl Willis wanted 95 pitches, and when Felix had only 20 in the third inning, Willis cheated. He kept Hernandez on the mound for five outs.
In what was technically the seventh inning, Felix got three quick outs and held up two fingers.
“I wanted two more hitters,” Hernandez said. He got them.
Catcher Miguel Olivo was behind the plate for Hernandez, and had never caught him pitching quite that well.
“He had everything today and threw it for a strike – fastball, changeup, slider, curve, sinker – everything,” Olivo said. “The curve he was throwing today? I don’t know how they hit him, ever, because I can barely catch it.”
Just how good was that curve?
“Nobody put one in play,” Willis said.
“Now I prepare for opening night,” Hernandez said.
Does that mean watching lots of video on Oakland Athletics hitters? No.
“I don’t need video, I know their hitters,” he said. “I just need to keep working, my usual schedule. I had all my pitches today, I threw them all for strikes. I’m ready for the regular season.”
DOWN TO 30 IN CAMP
The Mariners got down to 30 healthy players in camp, sending Matt Tuiasosopo to Tacoma and reassigning four others to their minor league complex. The other players sent down: right-handed pitchers Denny Bautista and Justin Miller, lefty Royce Ring and outfielder Mike Wilson.
“We made some tough decisions today,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve got to make some more.”
SO LONG, CARLOS
It might be of interest to Mariners fans that Carlos Silva, the right-hander who nearly made the NL All-Star team with Chicago last year, was released by the Cubs.
Silva was traded by Seattle to the Cubs for Milton Bradley, who will open the season as the No. 3 hitter. The Cubs cut Silva even though they owed him $11.5 million.
Chone Figgins and prospect Kyle Seager accounted for three runs but the Mariners lost in 10 innings, 5-4, when the Rangers scored a run against Scott Patterson. Seattle is 14-12-2, Texas 12-16-1. ... Jamey Wright worked a scoreless inning and now has piled up 11 this spring without allowing a run. ... No news on Franklin Gutierrez and his troublesome stomach, but he was called into Wedge’s office early Sunday. When he emerged, Gutierrez talked to Hernandez for a few minutes – then the two shook hands. Interesting. ...There are nine healthy pitchers and seven spots in the bullpen. One of the candidates, rookie Tom Wilhelmsen, pitched a shutout inning. Who’s on that bubble? Wilhelmsen, David Pauley and lefties Luke French and Cesar Jimenez. Only two will make the team. ... The Mariners have 24 home runs this spring, and they’ve been hit by 19 players – including eight who have been sent to minor league camp. ... Ichiro Suzuki had two of the Mariners’ seven hits and is batting .292.
Seattle hosts the Colorado Rockies in a 1 p.m. game that will be broadcast on 710-AM. Probable starting pitchers: Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa versus Jason Vargas.