Felix Hernandez and Adrian Beltre have been the closest of friends for a long time. When Felix broke into the big leagues in 2005 it was Beltre who, perhaps because he had empathy for the 19-year-old Felix having also come up at a very young age, took him under his wing.
“He did a lot of things for me,” Felix said Sunday afternoon shortly after Beltre recorded his 3,000th hit.
“He showed me how to play the game in the right way, he showed me how to handle myself in the clubhouse. He’s a leader, he was a leader here and he taught me a lot of things.”
The two remained close after Beltre left Seattle and relished the opportunity to face each other on the field. All baseball decorum goes out the window, with each player often seen heckling the other from the opposing dugout, mound or on the bases.
Monday night in Arlington, it was taken one step further. Felix had not had the chance to congratulate his friend in person on his 3,000th hit. Had the team arrived in Texas earlier, he would have gone and seen Beltre. Had he not been pitching in the series he may have even stayed at his house. He wasn’t going to disrupt his pregame routine Monday afternoon, but when Adrian Beltre stepped to home plate in the first inning in the Mariners game against the Rangers, Felix left the mound to give him a congratulatory hug.
“I texted him last night, I said, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid because I’m walking to home plate to give you a hug. I love you man, be ready for that,'” he said after the game. “It was huge. Today I see him and first thing I think is go out and congratulate him.”
Beltre could be seen uttering a few word to Felix mid-embrace, before Felix turned and walked back to the mound. The game then resumed, with Beltre getting hit No. 3,001, passing Roberto Clemente on the all time hits list.