By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
CINCINNATI — The Mariners’ 1-2 pitching punch will join the 2013 Major League All-Star Game.
Before Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, Mariners manager Eric Wedge called the team together in the clubhouse to announce that Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma had been selected to represent Seattle on the American League All-Star team, managed by the Detroit Tigers’ Jim Leyland. The two pitchers were selected in the players’ vote for the July 16 game at the New York Mets’ Citi Field.
“It’s always special getting to do that,” Wedge said. “It was just nice to see how genuinely excited their teammates were for them.”
This is getting to become a regular occurrence for Hernandez. It’s his fourth selection, but the excitement hasn’t worn off.
“It feels special,” he said. “It’s an honor to be part of the All-Star game again. It’s always fun.”
Hernandez is 8-4 with a 2.69 earned run average (second in the AL) in 18 starts. He has struck out 130 batters (fourth in the AL) in 1232/3 innings pitched while walking 24.
Hernandez got a wide smile talking about Iwakuma’s selection.
“He deserved it, man. He’s one of the best pitchers in the American League. He should be there.”
The shy and reserved Iwakuma couldn’t hide his excitement.
“You can see my smile,” he said through translator Antony Suzuki. “Very, very happy. I was very nervous at the same time.”
Even with subpar outings recently, Iwakuma has posted a 7-4 record with a 2.60 ERA (best in the AL) in 18 starts. In 1211/3 innings pitched, he’s struck out 103 hitters and walked just 18.
Still, he tried not to get caught up in his first All-Star selection.
“I tried to not be too aware of the situation,” he said. “You want to stay in your routine and pitch your game on your game day, so you don’t want to think about too much stuff away from what you’ve been doing the last couple of months. But I’m very happy things turned out this way. I’m very grateful.”
Unfortunately, Iwakuma won’t be able to pitch on July 16. He starts for the Mariners two days prior and Leyland has said he won’t pitch any starter that pitches on Sunday.
“Jim’s a smart guy,” Wedge said. “He’s not going to put anyone in harm’s way.”
Iwakuma understands the reasoning.
“It’s unfortunate not to be able to pitch, but at the same time, you want to enjoy every moment of being an All-Star, enjoy the atmosphere with all these elite players,” Iwakuma said.
Hernandez was in the same situation last year. This year, he’s ready to get on the mound.
“Oh yeah, I think I’ll be able to pitch,” he said.
Liddi traded to Orioles
The Mariners traded infielder Alex Liddi and their No. 3 international signing slot for the Orioles’ No. 2 slot.
Liddi is reportedly headed for the Orioles’ Class AAA affiliate in Norfolk, Va.
Liddi, 24, played in eight games with the Mariners this season, getting just one hit in 17 at-bats. He spent most of the season with Class AAA Tacoma, batting .263 (63-for-240) with 11 home runs and 43 RBI.
Liddi was designated for assignment when the Mariners called up shortstop Brad Miller. The team had 10 days to either release, trade or outright Liddi. With the Orioles or another likely to claim him off of waivers, the Mariners picked up some more money on the international market instead of letting him go for free.
Franklin’s knee hurting
Nick Franklin was not moving particularly well in the clubhouse before Saturday’s game, his right knee still looking swollen.
The Mariners’ second baseman fouled a bunt off the inside of his knee cap in his second at-bat in Friday night’s win. He was out of the lineup on Saturday.
“I am very frustrated,” he said. ” … Out of all things, it’s a bunt off the knee. You don’t really expect it to do anything.”
For complete All-Star Game rosters, see Scoreboard on page C4.