The Mariners put no timetable on his return to the mound or when he will even pick up a ball and resume throwing.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Given his arms and the array ink that is permanently adorned on them now, the odds of that line drive that struck Felix Hernandez in his right forearm on Monday not hitting at least one specific tattoo were pretty slim.
That the tattoo the highly superstitious Hernandez pointed to was of a star with a No. 13 — signifying his 2013 all-star selection — well that just writes itself.
“I know, right?” Hernandez said on Tuesday morning.
Lucky or not, that No. 13 is the starting point of all the swelling and pain his right arm. Hernandez noticeably winced when he tried to straighten his arm out or flex it in a curl motion.
How bad did that hurt?
“It was real bad,” he said. “I can’t explain how bad it was. I mean I’ve never felt anything like that before.”
With some ice and electronic stimulation treatment on Monday evening, some of the swelling has gone down. But the pain has not receded.
“It’s been sore since it hit me,” he said.
Hernandez knew the moment that Cubs catcher Victor Caratini hit the ball that he was in trouble. The ball came screaming off his bat and he had no chance to get out of the way.
“I finished the pitch and saw the ball coming back at me and I was like ‘Ohhhh my God,'” he said. “I saw it coming off the bat. And I’m like, ‘what am I doing?'”
The ball hit Hernandez and he staggered off the mound in obvious pain, grabbing at his arm. While manager Scott Servais, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and trainer Rob Nodine rushed on to the field to see if their pitcher was okay, Hernandez’s brother, Moises, thought something different.
“And then my brother told me yesterday, ‘Why didn’t you pick up the ball and throw it to first?'” Hernandez said. “I was like, ‘Dude, really?'”
Caratini reached out to Hernandez via direct message on Instagram.
“He said, ‘Dude, I’m sorry,'” Hernandez said. “I was like man, don’t worry about it and don’t try hit it so hard up the middle.'”
The good news for the Mariners is that the x-rays came back negative and it’s only a deep contusion. But it still sidelines Hernandez for a while.
“Bad thing is I was feeling good yesterday, I was throwing the ball really good,” he said.
Indeed, Hernandez looked sharp in a 1-2-3 first inning that included strikeouts of Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. He has been working on finding consistency with his mechanics as well as changing up a few things on his delivery to disrupt hitters’ timing.
“I really liked how he was throwing the ball yesterday,” manager Scott Servais said on Tuesday morning. “He did a couple of different things that he doesn’t do a lot of. It’s a setback, but it’s not the end of the world. We’ll get a ball in his hand as soon as possible. The report I got today is still very positive.”
Hernandez’s status is officially “day-to-day” from the Mariners.
“As soon I have no pain, I’m going to pick up the ball,” he said. “They say I have to be careful. Spring training just started so it’s a good thing that it happened now not like at the end of spring training or during the season.”
Much was made by the Mariners about getting Hernandez into his throwing progression earlier than past spring trainings. The plan was to get him more sound mechanically with more bullpens and Cactus League outings. He was starting to see results from the plan. But now it’s been put on hold. He vows to be ready for the regular season.
“It sucks,” he said. “I’ve been feeling pretty good. Now I have a line drive off the elbow. You know what? It happens. I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready for opening day.”