Felix looks ready for his Cactus League debut

Mar 3, 2013, 2:42 PM | Updated: Mar 4, 2013, 9:55 am

By Shannon Drayer

As I mentioned in the updated previous post, Felix Hernandez threw a simulated game Sunday and all went well. Once again he threw against guys from the low minors, but this was different in that in the sim game you simulate the breaks between innings with the pitcher going back to the dugout and sitting down like he would in a game. Outs, hits and runs are recorded and if anyone gets on, they actually get on. There are no fielders but there is base running.

Felix used all of his pitches and threw 39 in two “innings” plus. It was interesting to watch Felix work in that he handled it like he would a game. Everything from the pitch sequences to indicating how many outs to his invisible fielders to shaking a finger at first base after an out was made there just as he would in a game. He even asked that an out take first because he wanted to make sure his pitches were working the same out of the stretch. He was really working.

As for the pitches, I have no idea what the velocity was and I don’t think anyone had a gun on him. Whatever the velocity is, with what happened this time last year I am not going to be concerned about it unless it is something extreme, and I don’t see that happening.

It was a great experience to get to watch this from as close a distance as we got to. The media parked it up against the fence behind and to the left of the catcher, Kelly Shoppach. The vantage point was even better than what I get to see at the end of the games from the camera well. Watching that close you can really see how nasty the changeup is. The kids he faced for the most part clearly wanted no part of it.

“Luckily enough I didn’t get to see one of them,” jioked Joe DeCarlo, who faced Felix twice. “He’s the best, you know? I was just kind of in the batters box looking for fastballs and he’s pretty nasty. It speaks for itself.”

The sim game was not without controversy as Gabriel Guerrero got bat on ball and sent a pitch into center field that pitching coach Carl Willis called out as a single. Shoppach did not agree as he yelled, “Nice catch, Guti!” after the ruling.

After the game Felix said he had no doubt Gutierrez would have caught the ball had he been out there.

“Easy, easy fly ball there,” he said. “But the guy was doing pretty good. He was swinging at everything but he was doing pretty good.”

Shoppach was so sure the catch would have been made that he described the play.

“It was a low liner, he was coming straight in, it was just beautiful,” he said. “He just laid out for it. It was about this high off the ground. He slid in, popped up a little, side-arm flip to the middle infielder.”

Hit or no hit, Felix was pleased with the work he got in.

“I feel pretty good. The changeup was good, the slider was there. Pretty happy,” he said.

It has not been officially announced yet but Felix should throw in his first Cactus League game Thursday. A split-squad is assigned to face Oakland and Kansas City and my guess would be they will keep Felix away from the team he will face Opening Day. If he does face the Royals we will most likely broadcast that game (in delay) instead of the game against the A’s that we are currently scheduled to do. I will keep you updated on those plans here on the blog.

No starting pitcher.

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Felix looks ready for his Cactus League debut