Well, there’s little doubt Felix Hernanez has made the rotation. He steamrolled the San Padres like he does in most regular season games, striking out nine and allowing just two hits and no walks over six scoreless innings.
The Mariners came through late, scoring twice on a Chris Taylor single for a 3-1 win. Hernandez said he had all his pitches working and he’s looking forward to Opening Day in Oakland.
“Everything was sharp,’’ Hernandez said. “My fastball was pretty good, I had a lot of command. The breaking ball did the job. Every start I feel more comfortable. I’m just getting ready for the season.’’
Carter Capps struck out the side in the ninth, overpowering Sawyer Carroll, Alberth Martinez and onetime Mariners catcher Rene Rivera to . Very impressive.
“If you look at how he’s using his secondary stuff and mixing it in with his fastball, even from the beginning of camp, it’s been pretty incredible,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Capps.
Wedge told me he feels very confortable using Capps and fellow flamethrower Stephen Pryor in the late innings now.
For a while, it seemed the Mariners might not hang on.
Kameron Loe had a strikeout to start the eighth, but the ball got by Kelly Shoppach for a wild pitch. One single and one walk later, the bases were loaded with only one out. But Loe struck out Jeudy Valdez and then got a Gregorio Petit flyout to center.
On the Jon Garland front, Wedge liked what he saw from the veteran but said the out-clause in his deal simply came too early for the team’s comfort level.
“When you have an out this early in camp, you’re put in a position where ultimately, you have to make a decision,” Wedge said. “We were able to get him up to 69 or 70 pitches, but ultimately when you’re talking about that type of commitment over a period of time we had to make a tough decision and he had to make a tough decision and that’s where the ‘ot’ came in.”
I asked Wedge whether Garland would have had to “separate” himself more from the other pitchers to force the team’s hand.
“It’s a combination of things,” Wedge said. “Obviously, when you talk about Jon or Jeremy Bonderman, you’re talking about guys who haven’t pitched in a while. So, when you talk about how many starts they may or may not get over the course of the season, you’ve got to make those decisions. But we do have other guys who are fighting for spots and we feel good about those guys. It’s just somewhat of an unusual situation to have an ‘out’ that early, but I understand why he had it and I’m sure he’s going to get other opportunities.”
Wedge added that the team’s roster is pretty stocked with talent now and that putting Garland on would require losing somebody the organization would likely miss. The team will likely have to do that in any event, but would like to be highly selective about it. In other words, if they have a roster guy who’d close enough to Garland, they’ll go with that guy and avoid losing another player who would have to come off the roster.
“That’s something you have to take into consideration with any of your non-roster guys,” he said. “We’ve got multiple non-roster guys in this camp that have a chance to make this club, so we have to take the big picture into account with all of that.”
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