Felix Hernandez walked out to the field after the rain halted on a cool, wet day here, took some warm-up tosses with bullpen catcher Jason Phillips, then headed to an indoor bullpen for a 33-pitch session that lasted about 10 minutes.
Hernandez threw mostly fastballs with some changeups mixed in. The session drew quite a crowd of onlookers, between coaches, front office types, media and Hernandez’s Seattle teammates. They were all either inside the bullpen area or pressed along an outer fence watching.
“I was waiting for it for a long time,” Hernandez said of his first throwing session since inking a 7-year, $175-million deal last week. “Now that I feel good, I’m going to just keep going out there like normal and go with my routine and prepare for the games.”
Hernandez said the ball was coming out of his hand well and he felt comfortable throwing.
“I thought he looked free and easy and looked really good for his first time out,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “It was nice to see him get off the mound.”
While Hernandez was negotiating his contract, an MRI on his elbow showed signs related to possible long-term wear and tear. That caused a protective clause to be inserted in the language that would give the Mariners a bonus year of his services for only $1 million if he loses any significant time to a serious elbow injury requiring surgery.
Wedge said he’s proceeding as if Hernandez is completely healthy.
“Yeah and he is,” Wedge said. “Alot of that (negotiation) stuff got out (to the media) early and when you’re going through something like that it’s a long process and everybody did a great job with it. But we don’t have any worries with Felix right now, He’s just somebody that we want to slow-play a little bit because we’re starting games so early. And there’s no reason for him to get out there early like that.”
The Mariners aren’t playing any intrasquad games this year because the Cactus League schedule begins so quickly — a result of the World Baseball Classic schedule being run alongside spring training — with Seattle playing a Charity Game on Friday against the San Diego Padres. Hector Noesi will start that game,followed by Blake Beavan on Saturday and Erasmo Ramirez on Sunday.
The rainy morning here prevented the team from doing fielding drills or taking real batting practice, But the pitchers all got to throw their scheduled bullpen sessions indoors, some of them live sessions with hitters tracking the ball.