Drayer: ‘King’ Félix Hernández shares his favorite Mariners memories
Félix Week continues with, well, Félix.
Félix Hernández joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore Tuesday afternoon looking back at his greatest hits and giving a preview of what he hopes is to come for him on the diamond.
Félix was with the Braves in North Port, Fla., when spring training closed down due to the coronavirus. Signed as a non-roster invitee with a split major/minor league contract, Félix put together an impressive spring with a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings over four starts while striking out 14.
“I was just trying to do the little things,” he said. “I was really in good shape coming into spring training and I was healthy – the last year in Seattle I wasn’t healthy at all – and I was competing for a job. I went in with a different mentality, I was fighting for a job. I was going to do my best.”
Félix appeared on his way to winning a spot in the Braves rotation when the shutdown occurred. Whether baseball is able to return this year or not, he plans to play again with some very specific goals in mind.
“I still have got more to do in baseball,” he said. “I know I can pitch. I have a lot of weapons to get people out. I am going to go year by year because my goal is to get to 200 wins and 3,000 strikeouts. I get to that goal I can hang up my spikes. I’m done.”
With 169 wins and 2,524 strikeouts currently under his belt, reaching those goals would take a few years, but if his spring training performance translates to the regular season he could be on the right path.
As for the path already traveled, Félix is clearly enjoying having a Félix Week. One game still on his mind: the last he pitched in a Mariners uniform.
“I will never forget that start,” he said. “It was one of those moments I really loved. The city of Seattle, the fans and all the support they gave to me? It was amazing. If anybody didn’t cry in that start they don’t have a heart.”
His personal favorites from his Mariners career include the perfect game of course, along with his 2007 opening day start – the first opening day start of his career and the first time his mom was in the stands to see him pitch professionally – and a Sept. 21, 2016 game at Safeco Field against the Toronto Blue Jays. He shut down the Jays and their fans, who had taken over the park the previous two days, roaring “This is my house!” as he left the mound after throwing seven innings of two-hit, no-run ball.
“This is my house,” he remembered. “You are not coming in this house. Nope, it is my house.”
Also on the list are games against the Yankees and Red Sox in their houses.
“I loved it, I loved it,” he said of traveling east. “The old Yankee Stadium was the best, man. You are there on the east coast and facing a team with a lot of history. I was just going to go out there and shine and be Félix. Be King Félix.”
Our Mariners Classic tonight is one of those games against the Yankees.
August 4, 2012
This was seven years to the day after Félix made his big league debut and just weeks after the Mariners traded Ichiro to the Yankees. It was the middle game of a three-game series and at Félix’s locker in the visiting clubhouse the day before, a massive group of New York media descended as they always did, convinced that some day he would be a Yankee.
Félix had faced the Yankees just a couple of weeks prior, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. On this Saturday afternoon, he was getting ready to put on a show.
Dustin Ackley, 2B
Michael Saunders, CF
Jesus Montero, DH
John Jaso, C
Kyle Seager, 3B
Casper Wells, LF
Mike Carp, 1B
Eric Thames, RF
Brendan Ryan, SS
Félix Hernández, P
Curtis Granderson, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Mark Texeira, 1B
Raul Ibanez, DH
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Ichiro Suzuki, LF
Russell Martin, C
Hiroki Kuroda, P