Moore: How should Félix Hernández be remembered by Seattle?
After a three-and-a-half month absence because of a shoulder injury, Félix Hernández returns to pitch for the Mariners Saturday night at T-Mobile Park, prompting several questions:
How will he do? How many more starts will he make? Could this be the last time we see Félix on the mound in a Mariners’ uniform? Why did it take him so long to come back?
It’s hard to answer any of these questions, but I’ll take a stab at each one of them.
I think he’ll look great against the Blue Jays. Remember three years ago when he pitched well against Toronto and shouted to the Blue Jays fans, “This is my house!” He will be motivated to prove he’s still the King in front of another crowd that is expected to have a cadre of Blue Jays’ fans rooting against him.
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 22, 2019
I’m not concerned about his first start back; it’s the next start, and the one after that. With Félix at this point in his career, we’ll only get glimpses of what he used to be.
With 34 games remaining and the Mariners going with a six-man rotation, that means Félix will get four or five more starts, max.
I don’t think it will be the last time we see him in a Mariners’ uniform unless he gets hurt again, which is always a possibility. I’m guessing the last time we see him in Seattle will be on Sept. 29 in the last game of the year against Oakland, when the King’s Court and a sold-out T-Mobile Park say their farewells to the once-mighty King.
I’m still confused why it took Félix so long to return. In his last start in early May, he suffered what was said to be a Grade 1 lat strain, an injury that typically takes two to three weeks to return from.
Here we are, more than three months later. Certainly there were complications in rehab, but it still seems strange to me that it took this long.
Whatever. I guess it doesn’t matter now, but I’m still torn on whether there should be a full-on celebration for Félix in his final six weeks with the Mariners or not. Félix supporters can make a great case for a huge goodbye party because he deserves it, as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
They would also say he deserved better — the Mariners rarely gave him the run support that would have given him an even more successful career.
But what stops me from the full-on celebration is what appeared to be a delusional turn for Félix in the last few years. He still insists he’s the King when he’s not. It seems that he was reluctant to embrace the changes that general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais wanted him to make to become a better pitcher again.
If that’s the case, it’s mystifying to me. Even without a speedy fastball, Félix still looked like he had enough in his pitching arsenal to resurrect his career and at least turn into an effective fourth or fifth starter who could even shine at times.
Maybe that will still happen, but it won’t happen here. Félix will get a minor-league offer from another team, and we’ll find out if he can make a triumphant comeback at spring training next year.
In the meantime, we’ll see what he has left in Seattle.