Moore: It’s fair to speculate if Félix has thrown last pitch for Mariners
Do you know what to make of the Félix Hernández situation? I don’t either.
If you haven’t heard the latest, Félix had an MRI on his shoulder earlier this week after he pulled himself from a game with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers after throwing 31 pitches because something didn’t feel quite right. Or maybe it was fatigue, maybe a combination of both.
So when I heard about the MRI, I thought they’d find a new issue in his shoulder – he has already been on the injured list since May 12 with a lat strain. But manager Scott Servais said there were “no significant findings different from the past.”
I don’t suspect there’s anything fishy going on here, but wasn’t it a little surprising, after a pitcher pulls himself from a rehab start, that nothing different was found in the MRI?
I’ve also wondered about the length of time he’s been out. He has a Grade 1 lat strain, the mildest of the three grades. I read where pitchers who have Grade 1 lat strains typically miss two to three weeks. Félix has been out for more than a month.
The new plan involves strengthening exercises, picking up a ball in a few days, throwing a bullpen session or two and then going on another rehab assignment, according to Servais.
All of that sounds like we won’t see Félix in a Mariners uniform again until after the All-Star break. It’s also fair to speculate if we’ll ever see him pitching for the Mariners again.
And the thing is, do you even want to see him on the mound again? For the past two-plus years, he has not been the King, sporting a 6.42 ERA this year. I’ve never quite figured out if I should feel bad for him or not. On a personal level, it must be hard for him to be a below-average pitcher after dominating for so long. But should you feel bad for someone who has not always bought in to the Mariners’ plan for him to be a better pitcher? Plus how can you feel bad for a guy who is making $27 million this year whether he’s good or not?
It’s mystifying that a pitcher with his kind of stuff can’t be better than he’s been, even without the mid-90s velocity he used to have. I don’t know enough about pitching to explain it, but I’d venture to say that his repertoire is as good as any other starter on the staff and better than some.
Then again, maybe I’ve got the wrong read on what’s going on. If I’m him, I’m battling my butt off for pride’s sake if nothing else. I’d be talking to myself and saying: “Félix, come on, man, you can still be a Hall of Famer if you get it together. And even if I never get to Cooperstown, I’ve got to be better in the second half of the season to convince a team to sign me as a free agent in the offseason.”
We all know that the end is near in Seattle. It’s just hard to say how or when it will end, with glimpses of a rejuvenated King in July or the final look at a broken-down Félix in September.