Mariners’ Félix Hernández: ‘I need to go out there and show that I can pitch’
Félix Hernández threw to to hitters for the first time since the longtime Mariners pitcher came out of a rehab start with shoulder weakness on June 14. He threw 22 pitches from the mound at T-Mobile Park to Dylan Moore and Tim Lopes, and after the session declared that the outing was just “OK” as he left the field.
Minutes later in the clubhouse Félix perked up a bit and went further into detail.
“I think I walked a lot of people,” he said with a sheepish smile. “I was too quick with my mechanics, I was all over the place.”
Physically everything was fine but the results were not what he wanted. Regardless, Félix was hoping to throw three innings in a rehab game in Everett for the short season Class-A AquaSox on Sunday and follow that up with an outing five days later with Triple-A Tacoma. Mariners manager Scott Servais appeared to put the brakes on that plan.
“Félix has a ways to go,” Servais said in his daily media session. “It was rusty is the best way to describe what I saw today. He may need to do another live BP. We’ll see.”
Félix is anxious to get back on a big league mound. Rehab work while on the injured list is not fun. Being away from his teammates and family adds to what he termed as a miserable situation. Then there is the matter of his future.
“I need it,” he said. “If I want to play next year I have got to go out there and pitch.”
The acknowledgment was somewhat shocking. Throughout the ups and downs of his career, the Félix bravado has always been there. He is the King, after all. Over the last two months, however, a different reality has set in.
“There are a lot of miles on my arm,” said the 33-year-old former Cy Young Award winner. “A lot of innings in my years. A lot of baseball I have been through in my whole career.”
As what looks to be the end of his Mariners career grows near, what comes next becomes more real.
“I am thinking about next year for sure,” he said. “That’s why I need to go out there and show that I can pitch.”
A proper sendoff has been on Félix’s mind as well. Not so much for himself, but for those who have supported him throughout his years in a Mariners uniform. While he has dealt with injuries the past two seasons, the troubles of this year caught him off-guard.
“I was not planning it like that,” he said. “I did not see that picture in my head.”
Knowing that he needs to show himself to be healthy to have any kind of a chance at playing next year, a handful of outings before the end of the season are important to him. Home starts, even more important.
“It would be awesome,” Félix said. “All I have done here, it would be awesome for the fans.”