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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 18, 2007 at 8:49 AM

Hernandez heads towards Opening Day

I’ll try anything to get your attention on a slow Sunday, hence the title above. Truth is, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove wouldn’t budge this morning on yet another question about whether he’s ready to name an Opening Day starter. This query occurs every time Felix Hernandez pitches and he’s throwing again today, looking to go five innings for the first time this spring.
Hernandez will, in fact, barring a complete meltdown or injury, be facing the Oakland A’s in the season opener on April 2 at Safeco Field. Hargrove already knows who he wants out on the mound, but isn’t sharing.
“I just want to be sure that I’m making the right decision,” he said. ‘Because once it’s out of my mouth, it’s pretty tough to change it.”
Still, the rotation is currently set up for Hernandez to be the No. 1 guy and nobody, save for Horacio Ramirez, has really stolen the spotlight from him — or even shared it — down here. Bet the house that Ramirez won’t be the No. 1 guy, no matter how many scoreless innings he throws. Miguel Batista is strictly mid-rotation stuff, a dependable innings-eater who never gets hurt. Jeff Weaver has struggled with his control at times while Jarrod Washburn, the only guy with a real chance to supplant Hernandez for the No. 1 job, is still working at getting lefthanders out.
It was always Hernandez’s job to lose. So far, he’s done nothing to blow that. Chances are, with just 13 days until the opener, he won’t.
This time of year, everyone and their cat offers up predictions on how things will pan out in 2007. Here’s one take on which team will win the AL West. Never mind that I, as you all know, fully share this opinion. For these guys, there’s big money involved in their prediction-making. Fortunately though, for diehard Mariners fans, we will all see that this dude was a little off in his 2006 pick. So, there remains hope.
Looks like Chris Snelling has virtually locked up a job with the Washington Nationals.
Keeping with the week’s theme of Mariners closers (or wannabes) here is the latest update on Joel Pineiro’s quest to be the late-innings guy for Boston.
A former M’s closer-in-waiting got tagged Friday night.
Here is today’s Mariners lineup for the game against Milwaukee. A pretty good lineup at that.
Ichiro CF
Willie Bloomquist 3B
Raul Ibanez LF
Richie Sexson 1B
Kenji Johjima C
Jose Lopez 2B
Jeremy Reed RF
Rey Ordonez SS
RHP Felix Hernandez
It’ll be a hoot watching Hernandez try to hit. Sexson too, for that matter. He’s only two hits ahead of the staff ace, who’s yet to even step to the plate this spring.
I mentioned in this morning’s paper that Jose Guillen would be playing the field today. It’s actually tomorrow that he’s scheduled to play in right. Hargrove won’t be using him there every game, though, prefering to break him back in easily despite the progress his arm has shown.
“I certainly don’t want to overuse it down here,” Hargrove said.

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