Before the American League took the field for batting practice, Felix Hernandez made it a point to greet many of the military personnel on the field and sign as many autographs for them as he could. Here he signs for some Navy personnel, and below he brightens the day of some Marines. I had a better shot until a guy walked right in front of me. Oh, well.
The emergence of Hisashi Iwakuma and Yu Darvish — both of whom are inactive for the game, Iwakuma because he pitched Sunday, Darvish because he’s on the disabled list — caused a frenzy of camera clicks from the Japanese media. Here’s Iwakuma in a more pensive moment:
I had a chance to talk in the clubhouse to Mike Trout about flying out to New York on the same plane as Hernandez and Iwakuama after the Mariners and Angels finished their series at Safeco Field on Sunday.
“We had a good flight,” he said. “Iwakuma had his translator. I tried to learn some Japanese and some Spanish along the way. It was fun.”
I asked Trout if Felix was one of the toughest pitchers he’s faced, despite the fact he has pretty much crushed him. Trout has more at-bats against Hernandez than any other pitcher so far in his young career and is 15-for-34 (.441) with two doubles, two triples, a homer and nine RBIs.
“He’s up there,” he said. “I see him good. I was talking to him on the plane about that. He has nasty stuff. Great guy. We have our battles. We’ve built a relationship over the past two years. It’s fun to sit down with him in street clothes and enjoy that 4 ½ hour flight.”
Here’s a photo I shot of Trout, and some others of Felix Hernandez with Salvador Perez of the Royals. Both Hernandez and Iwakuma said they thoroughly enjoyed the home-run derby last night. Iwakuma took particular delight in riding in the parade to the ballpark today with his wife and three kids in a white Chevrolet.
“That was very fun,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like that. I was very nervous, but at the same time very excited. To see all the fans and people who came out to see the parade was awesome.”
Hernandez rode the parade route in a pickup truck with his wife and two kids. My sources tell me to look for Felix in the fifth inning, though that’s subject to change depending on how the game goes. Max Scherzer will likely go two innings, followed by Chris Sale of the White Sox, who is likely slated for two as well. Hernandez is next in line.