HOUSTON – It’s a sight we have seen many times before: Felix Hernandez will dash off the mound to cover first base and come up hopping on the other side. With the ankle and leg injuries he has had, this is always a concern. Most times, however, after a quick trip to the mound by the trainer who watches Felix throw a couple of pitches, everything is OK and he resumes his game.
Opening night in Houston was a little different.
In the fourth inning, Felix was late to leave the mound to cover first on a ball that Danny Valencia fielded away from the bag. Felix hit the bag, made the play and then came up hopping. Almost immediately, Robinson Cano motioned for the trainer to come out. Felix threw a couple of pitches, said he was able to continue and finished the inning. He came back and threw a 1-2-3 fifth inning, but that would be all. Nick Vincent came out for the sixth and shortly after an announcement was made that Hernandez had left the game with groin tightness.
Not what you want to hear in Game 1 of a 162-game season, but the news was better in the clubhouse following the Mariners’ 3-0 loss to the Astros.
“Right now I think he is going to be fine to make his next start. I just think where we’re at there, it was probably time to get him out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Servais was pleased with what he saw from Felix before he left the game.
“He was throwing the ball great, really had good stuff tonight even though he made a couple of pitches that hurt him,” Servais said. “He was sharp except for the couple of mistakes.”
Felix gave up two runs on two solo shots, one to George Springer, the first batter he faced in the game, and the other to Carlos Correa, who somehow managed to keep a ball a fair that got in on his hands. It was a mammoth shot that Statcast measured to be 449 feet.
“One mistake, it was to Springer,” Felix said. “The other one, it was a good pitch. I have to tip the hat to Correa. It was unbelievable it stayed fair. Good swing.”
As for the injury, Felix said that trainers on the bench recommended he come out of the game to be on the safe side.
“It wasn’t bad. I think I am going to be OK,” he said.
Felix said there was little question in his mind that he would be ready to go in five days.
“For sure,” he said. “I will be there.”