By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
PEORIA, Ariz. — Felix Hernandez was too efficient.
After pitching three solid innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday, the Mariners ace was forced to go to the bullpen and get in some more work instead of retiring to the clubhouse to relax.
Hernandez looked good in his second Cactus League start. He allowed one hit — a solo home run to Eric Hinske — and struck out three batters while walking one.
“He was great,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He was strong. He was using all of his pitches.”
Hernandez just didn’t throw enough pitches in three innings. He was scheduled to throw 50, but threw 38 in the game. So he retreated to the bullpen and threw 15 more, working mostly out of the stretch.
“It’s coming along pretty good,” Hernandez said. “It’s feeling better and better.”
Wedge didn’t feel like he needed to have Hernandez face additional hitters. The bullpen pitches were good enough.
“We don’t need to worry about that,” Wedge said. “He knew he was only going three innings. When you change it up and send him back out there for a fourth inning, and his mindset is different than that, you can push a bad play.”
The one mistake Hernandez made was to Hinske, who hit it over the wall in right field in the second inning.
“Mistake, tried to go in, left it up. Arizona,” he said referring to the hitter-friendly environment.
But other than that Hernandez felt everything was working.
“Good sinker, curve ball was good, slider only threw two or three, it was good,” he said. “Changeup, well, that’s always there.”
Hernandez got a little taste of the regular season with a small but vocal group of fans wearing “King’s Court” T-shirts and waving “K” cards while he was on the mound.
“That was pretty nice,” he said. “Those guys are unbelievable, huh? Awesome.”
Kinney’s “weird injury”
Josh Kinney isn’t sure how it happened. He didn’t fall. He didn’t do something on the field. He didn’t do it lifting weights. But from the time he drove to spring training from Missouri, he felt discomfort in his upper back.
That discomfort proved to be a stress reaction in his rib cage. But this rib injury is not on the side of Kinney’s torso where most people normally associate rib injuries. Kinney’s injury is more toward his back underneath his shoulder blade.
“It’s a weird injury,” he said. “It didn’t really affect me running or throwing at first. It just never got better.”
Kinney has been getting treatment and seeing a chiropractor since arriving in Peoria, but nothing seemed to make it better. He hasn’t been able to lift weights or work out normally. In his third outing, he noticed the discomfort had gotten worse when he warmed up. By his fourth outing, he was starting to adjust his mechanics to compensate for the pain. Not surprisingly, he got hit very hard in that outing.
“I had to say something,” he said. “My first couple of outings I was dealing with it and it wasn’t as significant. As a pitcher, you deal with things. The last time I just never got over it. They knew the whole time I was trying to pitch through it. We just didn’t know what it was. But you can’t pitch through something like that, not with your back.”
Kinney had an MRI and the stress reaction — which is a precursor to a stress fracture — was found. He can feel the pain when he takes a deep breath.
“You can’t pitch with that,” he said. “I don’t know how you get one of these things, but I’ve got one.”
Kinney will do very little for two weeks. He can do shoulder and elbow work on his throwing arm to stay in shape, but other than that he can’t do much physical activity. He was upbeat despite the expected time out.
“This is just a bump in the road,” he said.
The Mariners made a roster move on Tuesday optioning left-handed pitcher Anthony Fernandez to Class AA Jackson. … Seattle will host the Netherlands on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. in a World Baseball Classic exhibition game. The Netherlands advanced out of the second round of the tournament by beating Cuba, 7-6 on Monday and then losing to Japan in the Pool 1 championship game. The team will also be working out at the Mariners complex in Peoria. One of the Netherlands’ best players is Mariners outfield prospect Kalian Sams, who spent last season with Class AA Jackson. Sams was hampered by hand injuries, making two trips to the disabled list. He hit .242 with 11 homers and 35 RBI in 76 games at Jackson.