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July 22, 2010 at 6:32 PM

Don Wakamatsu clarifies what the plan is for Felix Hernandez from this point on

Some of you may have heard that Felix Hernandez threw a big of a fit in the dugout last night after being pulled 93 pitches into his eight-inning two-hitter. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had spoken to Hernandez recently about the need to start cutting back on some of his outings to preserve his arm.
Didn’t matter last night as Hernandez gt a little wild and demonstrative after being denied a chance to go back out. Wakamatsu said he would not have had it any other way.
“To be with Felix over the last year and a half, and to watch him grow…I’ve said it before, to go to the All-Star Game and watch him being with his family, watch what he’s accomplished, I have the utmost respect for him,” Wakamatsu said. “And for what he does every day when he goes out and competes. His emotions are strictly because he wants to win and as a manager, that’s a great thing. I don’t have a problem with it.”
It’s a tough situation. Hernandez is positioning himself for another Cy Young Award bid, but his team is going absolutely nowhere. So, does it make sense to tax his arm when his team is long out of the race? Not really. But on an individual scale, there is the Cy Young part of it.
“We talked about the neccessity of him cutting it back,” Wakamatsu said. “He wasn’t happy about it then and he wasn’t happy about it last night.”
This isn’t a case of Hernandez being on a pitch count. A lot of it will depend on the stress level of his outings and how he throws those pitches. Also on the situation in the game. It was a scoreless tie last night. If the M’s had a 1-0 lead, Hernandez would likely have been given a chance to finish the game.

Jose Lopez is back in the lineup tonight after last night’s base running gaffe. Wakamatsu has spoken before about holding players accountable for mistakes and he was asked today whether benching players after such incidents is an option for him.
“I think every manager wants to have that luxury,” Wakamatsu said. “But right now, we may have a two-man bench. It’s a lot harder to do that.”
Wakamatsu was asked whether he’d changed his stance on the Lopez play at all. Last night, Wakamatsu seemed to defend Lopez somewhat in stating that it was a tough read for him to make as to whether or not right fielder Andruw Jones had caught the ball.
Today, the manager was a little less forgiving in his words.
“I said last night, there’s no excuse for a lot of the base running mistakes,” he said. “They’re veteran players. A lot of these guys have played in a lot of games. I defend it maybe in a different light because I see it from the dugout here and understand what’s going on when you don’t score for 27 innings. It doesn’t make it any more justified. We’ve got to get better and we’ve got to make better decisions. That’s the bottom line.”
Wakamatsu has not spoken to Lopez about the play.
Last year, when Yuniesky Betancourt was about to be traded, the Mariners kept running him out there nightly to showcase him despite his poor play. I have a feeling that’s what is going on right now. Josh Wilson could play third base. Lopez is in there tonight, I suspect, because the team wants to deal him sometime in the next nine days.



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