GLENDALE, Ariz. – Most starting pitchers would happily take two scoreless innings with two hits allowed, a walk and a strikeout for their first spring-training outing.
Most starting pitchers aren’t Felix Hernandez.
The Mariners’ ace was matter-of-fact about his first start in the Mariners’ 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It was OK,” he said. “I’m not too happy. But I’m OK.”
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Of course, Hernandez’s “OK” game is better than most.
Facing a lineup featuring Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe, Hernandez didn’t have it easy.
His first pitch of the game — a low fastball down the middle — was spanked by Puig into the gap for a double. Puig isn’t afraid to swing at any pitch in any situation. Hernandez knew there was a good chance he’d hack at the first one.
“I was going to throw fastball anyway,” Hernandez said. “That was a good swing.”
With first base open, Hernandez then walked Crawford on four pitches.
“I was going to walk him to try and get the double play,” Hernandez said.
He did just that, getting Ramirez to hit into a textbook 6-4-3 on a ground ball to shortstop Brad Miller. With Puig on third, Hernandez struck out Ethier to end the inning.
In the second inning, Hernandez gave up a one-out single to Uribe and wild-pitched him to second on a changeup in the dirt. But he threw a pair of ground-ball outs to end the inning.
It may have been just a Cactus League game, but Hernandez doesn’t like giving up runs. The competitive side comes out in him.
“It’s always going to be like that,” he said. “I’m trying to get outs and not let them score any runs, and that’s what I did. “
So what, exactly, was he unhappy about? His best pitch.
“My changeup wasn’t working,” he said. “I threw it a lot, but it was garbage. It was bad.”
His manager didn’t necessarily agree.
“Felix did a good job,” McClendon said. “He settled down and threw the ball nice. He showed his poise and didn’t rush anything and continued to make pitches. That’s what veteran guys do.”
Jones’ full day
James Jones had a full day. The young outfielder went 2 for 4 in the game with a pair of singles. Things got interesting once he reached base. Blessed with great speed, he can be dangerous on the basepaths — for both teams.
After his third-inning single, Jones easily advanced to third on Mike Zunino’s double to left field.
But a few minutes later he made the mistake of hesitation. Ketel Marte hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop Justin Turner. Jones didn’t break for home on contact, but then belatedly decided to go. Turner read the play and fired home. Jones was halfway there when the throw arrived. So he retreated for third. Catcher A.J. Ellis tossed to third to get Jones as he dove back in.
“He got a bad read, but his intentions were the right intentions,” McClendon said.
Jones made up for the mistake an inning later. He led off with a sharp single to left-center. His presence on first base and increasing lead bothered veteran right-hander and one-time Mariners reliever Jamey Wright. After a few pickoff attempts and a pitchout, Wright threw over to first again and his throw bounced away from Clint Robinson and up the line. Jones raced around to third. A few pitches later, he scooted home when a still irritated Wright uncorked a wild pitch.
“There’s nothing like speed,” McClendon said. “They say you can’t teach it. It makes pitchers rush and do things they’re not capable of doing.”
Jones hit .275 with 14 doubles, 10 triples, six homers and 45 RBI with 28 stolen bases in 101 games for Class AA Jackson last season.
• 3B Kyle Seager returned to the lineup after missing four games with a jammed finger. Seager went 1 for 4 with an RBI.
• C Mike Zunino ripped a pair of doubles in the win — one down the left-field line and one to right-center field. “He’ been working on his trigger all spring. I think he’s in the process of putting it all together,” McClendon said.
• Minor-league 2B Ketel Marte got his first Cactus League start. He had a single, stole a base and made a couple nice plays defensively. “He wasn’t too bad, was he?” McClendon said.
• Closer Fernando Rodney will pitch in his first live action against the White Sox in Glendale.
• McClendon said that P Taijuan Walker is progressing as planned and should play catch on Thursday.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish