Caught up with former Mariners catcher John Jaso in the Oakland clubhouse today and got to ask him about the Rolex watch he received from Felix Hernandez as a gift for having worked his perfect game back in August.
“Nothing will top the actual experience of being back there catching it,” he said. “But this was a great gift from him.”
Hernandez had the words “Perfect Game” and the date inscribed on the back of the watch.
And then, of course, Jaso thanked Hernandez by getting that double in the fourth inning after the pitcher had retired the first 10 hitters in a row.
“I was going to tell him, ‘You’re not getting another perfect game on my watch’,” Jaso said.
To which, Hernandez might have replied something about Jaso not getting another watch on one of his perfect games. But anyhow, I digress.
I did ask Jaso, for fun, whether he’d rather have the watch or the double he hit.
“I would have to go with the Rolex,” he said. “I could get a double again another day, you know. A Rolex doesn’t come by too often.”
On a more serious note, Jaso was asked whether he’d passed along any Hernandez intel to his teammates, since he knows him up close like no other Oakland hitter. Jaso said that hitting coach Chili Davis tried to get some informtion from him to pass on to the others, but was told not to bother.
“I was like ‘Listen, if I tell you anything it’s just going to hurt people even more,” Jaso said. “Because, he can throw anything.”
Jaso has an epic 10-pitch confrontation with Hernandez in last night’s sixth inning that resulted in a strikeout.
“In that at-bat, I struck out and got a lot of pitches,” Jaso said. “He was throwing everything. I mean, he was trying to strike me out with everything he had. So, as soon as I say ‘Watch out for his changeup!’ then here comes a curveball. You know what I mean? And they’re all plus-pitches. So, you can really screw somebody up by thinking too much. And I’d say the only way to get a hit off him is, don’t miss that one pitch.
“I mean, everybody’s human and he’s going to make a mistake somewhere,” he added. “Your focus just has to be heightened like so much so that you don’t miss that pitch.”
Hernandez was throwing mainly changeups and curveballs in the at-bat and struck Jaso out on an 87 mph changeup.
“It seems like the harder he throws it, the better it is,” Jaso said. “If his changeup starts slowing down in the 86 mph range, then he starts leaving it up more. But if he’s throwing it hard, he’s throwing it down. And that’s more in the 88, or 89 mph range. I saw it hitting and it was tough. He threw one to me (at 87 mph) in that at-bat where I struck out and it was right at my knees and I thought it maybe was a ball.
“The umpire called a strike on me, so that’s in my head and then everytime he threw one down there I was hacking away at it after that.”