PEORIA, Ariz. – Felix Hernandez doesn’t like giving up runs in any situation. So when he didn’t make it out of third inning of his second Cactus League start on Sunday at Peoria Stadium, he was anything but content.
There was a frustrated shake of his head and a slow saunter to the dugout. Hernandez never likes leaving a game, particularly in that situation. The cheers of 10,291 fans couldn’t even bring a smile to his face.
After 48 pitches and 21
3 innings pitched, he was lifted for lefty Lucas Luetge. When the inning finally came to an end and the runners he left on base scored on a single, Hernandez’s final pitching line featured four runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Not exactly typical numbers for him, but not unexpected numbers in the spring.
Still, for Hernandez it’s a weird push and pull in his mind. A veteran of 10 major-league spring trainings, he knows that these outings mean nothing. Yet the competitor in him can’t help but be irked, standing on the mound and watching opponents cross the plate.
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So about that pitching line?
“It’s spring training, man,” he said. “But I was pissed. I want to throw zeros up there. But it’s spring training. I don’t care.”
Spoken like a man torn.
But that’s OK. His manager will gladly remind him the uselessness of overthinking spring training results if he needs to.
“I thought Felix threw the ball extremely well,” Lloyd McClendon said. “He had a couple tough breaks. The ball came out nice. He pounded the ball down in the zone. I was pleased.”
The tough breaks were a swinging bunt from Jim Adduci that couldn’t be fielded. A throw in the dirt on a stolen base that allowed Adduci to move up a base and later score. There was a third strike in the dirt that allowed a runner to reach and a bloop single from Robinson Chirinos that drove in two runs in the third inning.
“Yeah, I probably deserved better,” he said. “But I feel pretty good out there. I was throwing a lot of strikes.”
And that’s all that matters to the Mariners and Hernandez — he’s healthy. After seeing their starting rotation get hit with injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, the Mariners just want their pitchers to get in their work – results be damned.
The four strikeouts and the fact that Hernandez threw 34 strikes in his 48 pitches were a positive. After struggling with his changeup in his first start, he found the command of his best pitch.
“It was much, much better,” he said. “The feel was better. My mechanics were way better.”
Montero making progress
Jesus Montero’s two home runs in Saturday night’s 8-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers provided a little hope that the forgotten prospect might be a big-league contributor in the future.
But Montero still has a long way to go at the plate and in his conversion to first base before that happens.
“He was better the last three days, and he was (expletive) before that,” McClendon said. “We’ll see how it goes. He’s doing better. He knows what he has to do. The ball is in his court. He’s still got to get himself in better shape and he’s still got to drop some weight.”
Montero had an eventful game at first base, committing an error that cost the Mariners two runs.
“He needs a lot more work over there. It starts (Sunday),” McClendon said. “But in fairness to him, he hasn’t been over there much. He’ll continue to work and get better. I don’t expect him to get all this overnight. First base is a very difficult position to play.”
Montero has played eight games this spring and is hitting .350 (7 for 20) with two homers, two doubles and five runs batted in.
M’s 9, Rangers 8
The Cactus League comeback kids? OK, well maybe not. But Seattle was down 8-3 going into the eight inning and scored six runs to roar back for the win, while improving to 10-3 this spring. Michael Dowd blasted a bases-loaded ground double to left to score two runs. Cole Gillespie followed with a two-run triple to right-center field and Chris Taylor hit an RBI double off the batter’s eye in center field to tie the score. Taylor advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the winning run on Xavier Avery’s rocket off pitcher’s Cory Burns’ body.
In the ninth, Logan Bawcom hit the first batter he faced — Brad Snyder — to put the tying run on first. But a strikeout, throw-out double play on a steal attempt with a perfect throw from Dowd helped. The tying run again reached when Carlos Triunfel committed a throwing error on a ground ball, but Bawcom got Rougned Odor to ground out to end the game.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish