Hernandez struggled with his command and mechanics in his first game action since going on the disabled list on April 26. Mitch Haniger also started his rehab stint, going 1-for-4 with a single.
The competitor in Felix Hernandez was irritated by the results, frustrated with his command and confused as to why his mechanics felt awkward and out of sync. But the realist in Hernandez understood that the most important aspect of his first rehab outing on Tuesday with Class AAA Tacoma at Cheney Stadium was simple — health.
And despite a shorter than expected outing with too many runs and hits allowed, Hernandez didn’t feel any discomfort in his right shoulder in his first rehab start since going on the disabled list on April 26 with bursitis.
“I only got two,” he said of the innings. “I felt good, but it just felt weird. My timing was off and I couldn’t get my rhythm. But I was pain free and it was the most important thing.”
Hernandez pitched the two innings, giving up five runs on four hits with two walks and three strikes. With pitch limit of 60, he hoped to make it through four innings. Instead, he got just the two innings, throwing 20 pitches in the first inning and 29 in the second. His fastball sat around 91-92 mph and touched 93 mph.
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“I was wild,” he said. “I was all over the place. That’s not good. But it’s the first (game) in a month and a half. I knew it was going to happen. I just have to work on my mechanics and Sunday will be better.”
He is scheduled to make another rehab start for the Rainiers on Sunday at Cheney Stadium with a pitch limit of around 85. The plan would be to then insert him into the Mariners rotation and start against the Rangers on June 17 on the upcoming road trip.
“I was want to feel better and have more rhythm and throw more strikes,” he said.
Hernandez worked a scoreless first inning. He struck out former teammate Ketel Marte with a nasty curveball, but also issued a two-out walk.
His outing fell apart in the second inning. Hernandez was late to cover first on a ground ball to the right side, which resulted in a leadoff base runner. He gave up a single to former Mariner prospect Jack Reinheimer and then walked Zach Borenstein to load the bases. Hernandez came back to strike out Kristopher Negron, but then gave a broken bat bloop single to center off the bat of Hank Conger to allow a run to score. A misplaced fastball to Ildemaro Vargas turned into a line driver over wall in right field for a grand slam. Hernandez ended the inning, getting Marte to ground out and striking out Oswaldo Arcia.
The Mariners also had another key player beginning a rehab stint with Tacoma on Tuesday. Mitch Haniger (strained oblique) got the start at designated hitter and made four trips to the plate, going 1-for-4 with a soft single to right and a run scored. Haniger went on the DL the same day as Hernandez after injuring himself on a swing in Detroit.
He was expected to start his rehab stint 10 days ago but suffered a setback in his recovery after pushing too hard in workouts.
“It felt like spring training all over, just excited to get back on the field,” Haniger said. “It was nice to get out there.”
Haniger showed no hesitation at the plate, swinging hard at pitches and not worrying about the oblique.
“The last couple of days hitting, I really turned a corner and I stopped thinking about it,” he said. “I was just really trying to make sure I stay loose and stay warm in between innings. But it felt good.”
The plan is for Haniger to play six innings in right field in the Rainiers’ day game on Wednesday. He will play nine innings at DH on Thursday and then nine innings in right field on Friday. The Mariners will then reassess where Haniger is at in his return and determine if they should activate him from the disabled list or if he needs more games.