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April 18, 2007 at 11:13 PM

Gloomy post-game clubhouse

As you might expect, there was a lot of concern in the clubhouse about Felix Hernandez after the game. Mariners manager Mike Hargrove made a brief statement repeating that Hernandez felt elbow tightness and was removed. He then grew testy and terse when asked to elaborate.
Hargrove finally offered that: “My gut feeling is that Felix is going to be OK, but I have nothing at all to base that on.”
So, if you want to take some re-assurance in that, be my guest. I’ll wait for the all-clear sign. Remember Arthur Rhodes and his elbow tightness this spring? Hargrove was practically laughing at me when I asked him about it back then, falling all over himself to reassure me it was nothing serious. Perhaps he truly believed it. If so, that’s why he’s a manager and not a doctor.
This is a critical time. The season is hanging in the balance here if Hernandez has suffered a serious injury. Seattle is 5-5 and hanging close to the division lead for now. Without him, though, without that near-certain chance of victory he brings every five days, it’s a much different story.
Hargrove also went to great lengths to defend third base coach Carlos Garcia for waving Adrian Beltre around third on that ninth-inning single by Jose Vidro (who is quite hot right now, at 7-for-13 his last three games). Beltre was on first base when Vidro lined a ball that was slightly overrun by right fielder Michael Cuddyer. And though Beltre was charging hard as he headed around third, the relay throw home beat him by several feet.
“A third base coach is not doing his job unless he gets people thrown out at the plate,” Hargrove said. “I don’t think anybody in baseball wants a third base coach who is going to be safety first. Beltre ran hard from first to third, was running hard into third, and the outfielder overran the ball.
“Was it disappointing? Yeah. Hindsight being 20-20, I wish he’d stayed there. But when he sent him, I was glad to see him send him because that’s the play to make.”
Hargrove was pleased with how the team did not quit until the final out. As we mentioned in previous postings, it took the Mariners quite a while to emerge from that early fog of losing Hernandez. In the end, it took them just a little too long — perhaps one at-bat too long — to do it.
“I think it was a blow probably for all of us, mentally,” Hargrove said of losing Hernandez in the first inning. “It was a bummer.”

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