A relieved Felix Hernandez talked eagerly here Monday about making his next start at Yankee Stadium on May 4. Hernandez played catch for...
ARLINGTON, Texas — A relieved Felix Hernandez talked eagerly here Monday about making his next start at Yankee Stadium on May 4.
Hernandez played catch for eight minutes from a distance of about 75 feet at Ameriquest Field and said he felt no lingering elbow pain. The Mariners placed him on the 15-day disabled list, a move that will only delay his previously projected start by a couple of days.
“It was pretty good, no pain, nothing,” Hernandez said of his catch session. “When I felt no pain in my elbow, I was real happy.”
In making the move, the Mariners cleared roster room for Cha Seung Baek to be called up from Class AAA Tacoma for Monday’s game against the Texas Rangers, in which he allowed four runs over 4-1/3 innings and had a no-decision. The move also allowed the Mariners to not have to ship out another player — most likely a pitcher — and lets them keep seven relievers at a time the starting rotation is struggling.
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Today | at Texas, 11:05 a.m., no TV | M’s LHP Jarrod Washburn (0-2, 4.42) vs. RHP Vicente Padilla (0-3, 6.00).
Wednesday | at Oakland, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M’s RHP Miguel Batista (1-2, 8.83) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (2-0, 4.13).
Thursday | at Oakland, 12:35 p.m., no TV | M’s LHP Horacio Ramirez (1-1, 6.30) vs. LHP Joe Kennedy (0-2, 3.18).
Friday | vs. Kansas City, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M’s RHP Jeff Weaver (0-3, 13.91) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (2-1, 3.04).
Saturday | vs. Kansas City, 6:05 p.m., Ch. 11 | M’s RHP Cha Seung Baek (0-0, 8.31) vs. RHP Gil Meche (1-1, 2.55).
“Had we not DL’d him, we would have had to send a position player out or one of our bullpen people,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “That wasn’t the best thing. It just made sense to DL him. We talked to Felix and he understood.”
Hernandez is to play catch today, then have at least two bullpen sessions before taking the mound in New York. He’ll be on an 85-pitch limit in that game, but go as long as he can in ensuing contests.
“He was a little tentative I think, at first, but that’s understandable,” manager Mike Hargrove said of the catch session. “But once he got into it, he was fine.”
All the down time in the five days since Hernandez strained the flexor pronator muscle in his elbow has started to weigh on the 21-year-old.
“I’m a guy who doesn’t want to take a day off,” he said. “Just go out and pitch every five days. That’s me, you know? It’s tough to control.”
Weaver meets with Hargrove
Mariners pitcher Jeff Weaver and Hargrove met behind closed doors to discuss the manager pulling the starter only three innings into Sunday’s game.
Weaver said “we both got off our chests what we needed to” and that he accepts Hargrove’s decision and explanation to him. He felt he had been enjoying his best outing of the season when yanked, despite needing 68 pitches to get through three innings.
“I was very surprised,” Weaver said. “No starting pitcher wants to come out of the game after only three innings. It’s just a decision made by the skipper to make a change and hopefully light a fire under the team. Just switch things up for us. We’ve had a tough stretch and I just happened to be the guy starting at the time.”
Weaver doesn’t feel he had a problem “putting guys away” after getting ahead 0-2 on a number of hitters before watching them notch hits or battle more deeply into the count.
“Like I said, that’s the best I’ve thrown all year,” he said. “I just had some problems with balls put in play. That’s the pitching style that I’m about. Get the ball put in play. It’s just unfortunate that they weren’t hitting our gloves. But that’s baseball. That’s pitching.”
Even so, the Mariners want to see Weaver make some changes to better fool hitters. Mariners pitching coach Rafael Chaves figures that Weaver could have made quicker outs after getting ahead 0-2 on so many hitters.
“We had a nice talk with him,” Chaves said. “We talked about making some adjustments. Not necessarily mechanically, but places he can go in the strike zone after he jumps ahead.”
• Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima sat the game out with a bruised right calf, suffered when he was hit by a foul tip in Saturday’s loss to the Angels. Johjima said Monday he feels well enough to play, but Jamie Burke got the start in his place — notching a hit in his third consecutive game with a single in the sixth.
Hargrove said Johjima is still day to day and may play today.
• Monday’s game marked the first time Seattle’s bullpen has been in a save position in the eighth inning all season. That has meant very little work for late-inning relievers, though Mariners setup man Chris Reitsma has quietly tossed 4-1/3 scoreless frames in situations somewhat less stressful than he’s used to.
Reitsma is coming off elbow surgery, so he’s trying to make the most of every outing. He admits, though, that he has never been on a team that’s gone this long without a true save opportunity.
“It’s been tough. It’s been a weird start to the season,” Reitsma said. “I mean, it’s hard, there’s no secret to it, You’ve just got to go out there and try to get it done during the game. Try to find your touch out there, which isn’t always the easiest thing.
“Obviously, it would be nice to throw every other day and get in a lot of games and feel comfortable,” he added. “That’ll come this year anyway. I expect it to come pretty quickly.”
• Seattle has gone three consecutive games without a starter lasting five innings. In addition to Baek’s 4-1/3 innings on Monday, Weaver lasted three frames on Sunday and Horacio Ramirez worked four-plus innings on Saturday.
For the record
vs. AL West: 5-5
vs. L.A.: 0-3
vs. Oakland: 2-1
vs. Texas: 3-1
vs. AL East: 1-1
vs. AL Central: 0-3
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 0-2
vs. RHP: 6-7
Extra innings: 0-0