Mariners notebook: Felix Hernandez on track to start March 14

Mar 4, 2016, 12:34 PM | Updated: 12:51 pm
Felix Hernandez is scheduled for a sim game before his first Cactus League start on March 14. (AP)...
Felix Hernandez is scheduled for a sim game before his first Cactus League start on March 14. (AP)
(AP)

Felix Hernandez threw to hitters in his first live BP session of the spring and all went well. He threw around 40 pitches, mixing them all in and feeling particularly good about the changeup.

“It felt good,” he said with a smile. “Ask the hitters. They weren’t happy.”

Related: Latest news, photos, video and more from Mariners spring training

One hitter, Tyler O’Neill, was happy about a fastball he saw, however, as he took one over the fence of the lower field.

“Got him!” yelled O’Neill, perhaps unwisely.

Felix is used to over-exuberant young hitters who get to face him in the spring and knows they are not going for base hits. They come up swinging, hoping to catch one, as O’Neill did. Felix didn’t mind the fact that one was hit out. He wasn’t crazy about the reaction, however. There was no chance for Felix to brush the youngster back as O’Neill called it a day after the homer.

“I told Mel I wanted the righty but he didn’t come back up,” said Felix, who also noted he was throwing at about 80 percent.

Up next for Felix, a sim game and then his first Cactus League start of the spring on March 14.

Sardinas, Taylor batting for utility spot

A little more from the skipper on I wrote about Thursday. Servais, who confirmed that he will be looked at in center field, has a long history with him.

“I actually was involved when (the Texas Rangers) signed him as a 16 year old in Venezuela,” he said. “I had this whole development plan. When we signed Luis he weighed 146 pounds. He had some injury struggles early on. Switch hitter, he had the high finish and he actually dislocated both shoulders. I finally had to sit him down in my office as a 16 year old and said you are not playing until you weigh 155, 160 pounds.”

Servais pointed out that Sardinas had a tough time adjusting to the diet and culture as such a young player in professional baseball but eventually he got there. When the Mariners traded for him, he picked up the phone and gave Sardinas a call.

“I asked how much do you weigh,” he said with a chuckle, “and he said ‘I weigh 185. You have to play me.'”

Servais likes the options he has for the utility spot. While both Sardinas and Chris Taylor are young, they each bring a lot to the table. How will the decision be made?

“I like both players a lot,” said Servais. “I think they compliment each other well, different skillsets, how they go about things a little differently. Those guys are very valuable.”

Servais pointed to the way Sardinas was able to jump into the game Thursday with no warning or warmup after Romero was injured as a great skill. His competition, Taylor, brings another skill that is appreciated by the skipper.

“Chris is always into the game. He is just wired that way,” he said. “He’s locked in every pitch in the dugout, and that’s what you have to do when you are in that spot.”

Of course the ability to play shortstop will factor in as well.

“Both throw and have range,” said Servais. “Luis might have a tick more range, Chris is probably a little steadier and less flashier is how I would term them. It’s about make the plays you are supposed to make, and being in the right spot. They are both very qualified and competent to handle the position. If you had to put them in on an everyday basis, I feel very comfortable with that.”

So how do they choose?

“Making the decision going forward with those guys, (it’s) who can help us the most going forward,” said Servais.

Lineup

Nori Aoki, LF
Leonys Martin, CF
Efren Navarro, 1B
Seth Smith, LF
Chris Iannetta, C
Luis Sardinas, SS
Mike Zunino, DH
Chris Taylor, 3B
Shawn O’Malley, 2B

Taijuan Walker, P

Notes

• The Brock and Salk show has been in camp all morning and today they had a terrific interview with Robinson Cano, who stopped by their broadcast table just beyond Field One. In that interview, Cano shed some new light on the Andy Van Slyke comments and the relationship between the two. It’s a good interview and very much worth a listen.

• Scott Servais will typically try to keep his starting infield on the same game schedule during the spring, but Efren Navarro is at first base Friday. They are easing Adam Lind into games as last year he did a little too much early and had some back issues.

• All reports are good on Stefen Romero after getting hit on the knee to start the “knee-six-three” double play Thursday, as first base coach Casey Candaele dubbed it. Romero said it is sore and swollen but he is moving around okay and expected back in the lineup in a couple of days.

• Nelson Cruz should make his first start on Saturday after being kept out of the lineup with a sore knee. The plan for Cruz is to DH a couple of days, give him a day off and then work in some outfield, most likely alternating DH and outfield after that.

• We should see Danny Hultzen make his spring debut early next week. They are going slow with him as he tries to work his way back from shoulder surgery. This camp is different for Hultzen as he is working as a reliever, something the Mariners are experimenting with. “He’s looked very good. We are excited about it,” said Scott Servais. “He’s got stuff, there is no doubt about that. I think trying to get him to relax a little bit. Everyone knows he’s a great kid, nobody tries harder, nobody has been through more than he has.”

• The Mariners have another guest instructor scheduled to arrive Friday. Julio Cruz will be in camp for a few days, and Servais would like for him to work with some of his base stealers, mainly Boog Powell and Leonys Martin.

• Servais downplayed the first meeting with his former club, the Angels, which will take place Saturday. “It’s spring training,” he said. “We are going to play them 19 times this year, they have got a really good team, everyone knows that. It will be very competitive all year long. This is just spring training.”

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