King Felix Unhappy After Delayed Debut
8 2/3 in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela.
14 in spring training for the Mariners.
One in the All-Star Game for the American League.
238 2/3 in the regular season for Seattle.
That's 262 1/3 innings in all, or 42 1/3 more innings than he'd ever pitched in any prior season.
They were quality innings, too, especially in the regular season when he put up a 19-5 record and 2.49 ERA that helped him finish second to Kansas City's Zack Greinke in the Cy Young Award voting.
The upsurge in innings pitched was enough that the Mariners feel compelled to take a little wear off his arm, which is why before Sunday the closest he'd come to competition was a couple of two-inning simulated games. And in the first of those, the hitters were instructed not to swing.
So there was some understandable interest when Hernandez started against the Rockies Sunday in the Mariners' last-ever visit to Hi Corbett Field. He threw 53 pitches (32 strikes) and didn't give up a run in 2 2/3 innings, getting a no decision in Seattle's 5-4 loss to Colorado.
Hernandez did allow four hits and a walk while having an error committed behind him. And while one of the hits probably should have been handled by his defense, Hernandez would only rate his outing as "OK.''
"I wasn't happy with my performance,'' Hernandez said. "It felt weird. After two batters, my rhythm felt fine. But I think at this point last year, I'd already thrown 15 innings.''
The Mariners' plan is to make sure that Hernandez doesn't get overextended in spring training. They are doing the same with Cliff Lee. The lefty, who threw 272 innings with the Indians and the Phillies in 2009 when you include his 40 1/3 in the postseason, will get just his second start of the spring Monday in Tucson against Arizona.
"If it was up to me, I would have pitched before this,'' Hernandez said. "But I understand what they are trying to do. They want me to be fresh for the season.''
Or, maybe, they'd like him to be fresh for October. The Mariners haven't made the playoffs since 2001's 116-win season. With the additions of Lee, Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley, among others, they'd like to change that.
"I'd love to pitch in October,'' Hernandez said.
If he does, the matter of innings pitched would be of absolutely no consequence.
"If you get to the postseason, you get fired up all over again,'' Hernandez said. "You get that adrenaline going. I'd like to experience that.''
Rookie catcher Adam Moore, who likely would catch Hernandez on Opening Day if starter Rob Johnson can't go, was catching Hernandez for the first time.
"It felt like Opening Day,'' said Moore, who was wearing three or four stitches on his chin thanks to an awkward head-first slide at third base. "When Felix lets it go, the pitches move seven inches to a foot. You're not going to have a comfortable at-bat against him.''
Johnson, who hasn't caught yet this spring, will be behind the plate Monday for Lee.