By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
BOSTON — Felix Hernandez has a hobby some of his Seattle Mariners teammates enjoy more than others — on every bus he rides, he likes to honk the horn.
When the team took a rare private train from New York to Boston on Sunday night, Brandon League inquired whether Felix was going to blow the whistle from the engine.
Not surprisingly, the Mariners ace found a way.
“I asked and when we had a quick stop, Hector (Noesi), Shawn (Kelley) and I got to go up to the engine,” Hernandez said Monday, still delighted.
“There weren’t that many dials and controls. Just a couple of things to pull or push for forward and reverse.”
Could Hernandez now drive a train?
“No. All I wanted to do was blow the whistle,” he said.
Blow it he did.
“Six, seven times, it was way cool,” Felix said.
As for the nearly four-hour train trip, most of the Mariners enjoyed taking a break from airports and airplanes.
“We didn’t even sit down, we stood around talking the whole time,” Felix said.
An older writer mentioned that was the way all teams traveled before airplanes, and Felix stared at him a full 10 seconds.
“No way,” he said.
“Way,” he was told.
“Wow,” Hernandez said.
Ackley the leadoff hitter
Manager Eric Wedge says he’s been pleased with Dustin Ackley as the leadoff hitter, and the numbers — in a short sample size — show a difference.
Here’s a quick comparison.
Ackley batted .221 in 22 games hitting second in the lineup, with five doubles, a home run, six RBI and a .275 on-base percentage.
Leading off in 11 games, he batted .310 with two doubles, a triple, home run, 4 RBI and a .356 OBP.
Over their first 36 games, the Mariners scored three runs or less in half of them — and went 3-15 in those games. … Kevin Millwood induced three ground ball double plays in his win in New York on Sunday, and that’s the most he’s gotten in one game since June 27, 2006. In between, he pitched 154 games. … Left-hander Charlie Furbush is not technically a left-handed specialist, but lefties are 3-for-20 against him this season. … With the threat of a rain delay Monday, Boston hitters watched video not only of starter Jason Vargas, but of long reliever Hisashi Iwakuma before the game. … Ever wonder how many bats a player takes with him on a trip? Michael Saunders brought 10 for a 10-day trip, was given two pink bats for breast cancer awareness and broke one Sunday.