Hernandez tossed a total of 27 pitches, including throwing all of his offspeed pitches, and felt better from the stretch than the full wind-up.

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PEORIA, Ariz. — Even now, when Felix Hernandez steps on a pitcher’s mound, it still draws interest, regardless of the setting or circumstances. This spring, the reasons for that attention might be a little different, specifically his overall health in what the Mariners hope will be a bounce-back season.

Typical to form, Hernandez drew a crowd of on-lookers on Saturday morning when he stepped on a mound for the first time this spring training. With the sun finally out and temperatures in the 70s, Hernandez threw his first bullpen of the spring. Fans crowded around the chain link fence of the “six-pack” bullpen on the backfields of the complex while general manager Jerry Dipoto, manager Scott Servais, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and more than 20 staff members watched intently behind the pitchers mounds.

Hernandez threw 27 pitches in the outing to catcher David Freitas.

“I threw everything, curveball, changeup, sinker and one slider,” he said. “It was OK. I was better from the stretch than from the windup.”

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“I was more balanced from the stretch,” he said. “I was moving all over the place from the windup.”

He was satisfied with his first bullpen session.

“It was fine,” he said. “I’m happy. I just want to throw strikes. I feel good. I feel normal. I have no problems.”

Hernandez is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Tuesday. He would then move to a live batting practice session followed by Cactus League games.

He shared his tentative starting schedule for his projected starts. He’ll pitch in six games to prepare for the season. The current schedule, which is subject to change, is this:

  • February 26 — at Cubs
  • March 3 — vs. Angels
  • March 8 — vs. Giants
  • March 13 — at Rockies
  • March 18 — vs. Indians
  • March 23/24 — at White Sox/vs. Cubs

Depending on the timing of that final start, Hernandez is set up to either start on opening day or the second game of the first series against the Indians. Manager Scott Servais has not announced who is opening day starter will be. Hernandez has been the traditional opening day starter. But there is some thought that the Mariners might have James Paxton make that start instead.


Slow motion of his breaking ball: