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Mariners blog

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

March 23, 2007 at 3:53 PM

Felix to start Opening Day

Everyone knew this was coming, but it still makes things no less special when a guy who turns 21 in April is named a team’s Opening Day starter. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove delivered the news to Felix Hernandez with a belly-tap after the hurler retired the final six batters he faced in Seattle’s eventual 10-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Hernandez was all smiles in the clubhouse afterward, though he did make an effort at toning down his comments the way a veteran would. But it’s tough to hide giddy feelings when you’re only 20. Hernandez called it ”the greatest moment of my life.”
Turns out the training staff had reason to be worried about Hernandez in that fourth inning. He wound up twisting his left ankle — his landing leg — by stepping in a hole that’s formed over time after others have pitched on that mound. The same thing happened to him against Milwaukee last weekend. But Hernandez insists he feels fine and is ready to go.
Hargrove is holding off on announcing the rest of the rotation. After all he’s hinted at the past two days, it now turns out that he still is mulling over the No. 4 and No. 5 spots. So, perhaps Ho Ramirez won’t be the fifth starter. I give up trying to guess. There is a sound argument to be made for splitting up the righties by going right-left-right-left-right — making Ramirez the No. 4 guy and either Jeff Weaver or Miguel Batista the fifth starter. Weaver has struggled all spring, giving up quite a few home runs. We’ll just have to see.
J.J. Putz apparently had a very strong bullpen session and the team is hoping to get him into a pair of big-league games — including the exhibition contest in Las Vegas next week — before bringing him north. That’s good news, if it all pans out.

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