You can see Felix Hernandez in the photo above, hiking up his pants so he can navigate over a fair-sized puddle blocking the entrance to the field this morning. We’ve had a ton of rain fall over the past 24 hours, leading to lousy field conditions. The Mariners have put off tomorrow’s intrasquad game until at least noon Pacific time to give the field a chance to dry off. In fact, the team won’t even be dressing and heading out for stretch until about 10 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow. The game, once it starts, is supposed to last for 8 1/2 innings.
The Mariners are also scaling back on Felix Hernandez’s workload for now. Hernandez was supposed to throw a simulted game on Thrsday, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, he played long-toss today and now has a side session scheduled for Tuesday, followed after that by likely a side session or bullpen.
Naturally, we were all a little curious about this.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said that he and pitching coach Rick Adair had a meeting after Hernandez’s first bullpen session and decided to change direction with Hernandez a bit.
“I thought his first bullpen was at 100 mph,” Wakamatsu said. “It looked ike he was trying to get ready to pitch for the season opener in the first bullpen.”
The team doesn’t want Hernandez firing all of his bullets in Cactus League games, so they’ve backed him off. Once again, the target is for Hernandez and Cliff Lee to only get about 25 innings apiece down here.
On to other news, Wakamatsu is very pleased by what he’s seen so far from the bat of Milton Bradley in batting practice. Wakamtatsu had a chat with Bradley when he first got to camp and asked him about where in the order he was most comfortable hitting. Bradley told him he’d hit anywhere he’s needed, but Wakamatsu made him narrow it down and was told the No. 3 or No. 4 spot.
This is important for Wakamatsu to know as he goes through the process of putting a lineup together. The Mariners would like Bradley as a middle of the order bat, but have to know if he’s comfortable there. Last year, they’d have liked to use Russell Branyan in the middle of the order, but he just couldn’t handle the pressure of that role. It’s why Branyan was used out of the No. 2 spot all season.
Wakamatsu once again confirmed that he’ll take a look at Franklin Gutierrez in the No. 3 hole this spring. The manager said he believes Gutierrez could be a clean-up guy someday and is impressed by the swings he’s taken so far this spring with a lot of added upper body muscle and healthier knees.