Mariners fans may wonder where the decade went, but it’s been 10 years since Felix Hernandez made his first big-league start.
DENVER — Felix Hernandez was feeling mildly nostalgic on Tuesday. It was 10 years ago to the day that he made his first big-league start.
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
It’s hard for Hernandez and Mariners fans to believe that it’s really been 10 years. He was 19 years and 118 days old when he stepped to the mound, and he only looks marginally older.
“Does it look like it’s been 10 years?” he said. “Yeah, it looks like it’s been 10 years.”
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Well, he’s shaved about 30 pounds off his frame compared to that start. Gone is the big mop of hair, replaced by an elaborate mohawk that has a few gray hairs sneaking out.
The debut came on a Thursday at Comerica Park against the Detroit Tigers. The lineup that played behind Hernandez featured Wiki Gonzalez as his catcher, Scott Spiezio as the designated hitter, Michael Morse at shortstop and Jeremy Reed in center field.
In a sign of things to come later in his career, Hernandez pitched well, but lost because the Mariners mustered all of one run against starting pitcher Sean Douglass in a 3-1 loss. Interestingly, Hernandez’s current teammate — Fernando Rodney — worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up the save, his second of that season.
Hernandez worked five innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches with 49 strikes.
“I know I pitched well, and I know I had a good game, but I can’t be too happy because the team lost,” Hernandez said after that game.
Gonzalez knew he was part of something special that day:
“I was saying that earlier today. Maybe in 10 years, 15 years, I’ll be watching TV, and I’ll be able to tell my kids I caught his first game. The first game of a possible future Hall of Famer.”
Hernandez has made 325 starts and pitched 2,2041/3 innings, most in team history. He has a 138-98 record with a 3.08 ERA and 2,091 strikeouts over that time.
The Mariners made a roster move after Monday night’s 8-7 win over the Rockies, optioning recently acquired right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez to Class AAA Tacoma.
The corresponding move was announced on Tuesday afternoon with right-hander Mayckol Guaipe recalled from Class AAA Tacoma to take Ramirez’s spot in the bullpen. Guaipe arrived at Coors Field just before 3 p.m.
Why the move?
“There were a couple of reasons,” M’s manager Lloyd McClendon said. “(Ramirez) hadn’t thrown in five or six days, and it probably isn’t fair to try and put him in a ballgame. Guaipe is sharp and he’s ready. So we just switched them out.”
Ramirez hasn’t pitched in a game since July 29 with Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was 3-0 with 10 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 32 relief appearances before being traded by the Yankees to the Mariners along with outfielder Ramon Flores in exchange for Dustin Ackley.
This is Guaipe’s third stint with the Mariners this season. He appeared in three games and was 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA.
“He’s been throwing the ball better,” McClendon said. “I think he has big-league stuff and will be around for a long time.”
•The Yankees placed recently acquired Ackley on the disabled list on Tuesday with a right lumbar strain. Reports out of New York said that a MRI revealed a herniated disk.
McClendon said he was shocked by the news. “He was fine with us.”
The Yankees don’t believe that the Mariners traded them an injured player.
“Unfortunately, I guess timing is everything,” general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News. “We had bad timing in terms of when he had an issue materialize. No complaints in Seattle. No tests, no issues, no treatment. Then he got to us, after he played in the one game he started feeling some pain down the leg.”
Ackley told reporters he had no issues with the back while playing in Seattle.