PEORIA, Ariz. – Felix Hernandez insists he didn’t expect to be the Seattle Mariners’ opening-day starter, even though there was every indication from the first day of spring training.
He’d reported 20 pounds lighter than last year, replacing the excess weight with a resolve to become the dominating pitcher everyone predicted when the Mariners signed him at age 16 in 2002. Then he powered through spring training without much struggle, going 2-0 in his first five starts and maintaining control over his pitches and his emotions along the way.
It became an easy decision for manager Mike Hargrove, who said Friday that Hernandez would get the ball on April 2 against the A’s at Safeco Field. Hargrove made it official Friday, telling Hernandez as he came off the field after his start against the Los Angeles Angels.
“This kid came into camp with a great attitude, in great shape and he’s thrown the ball real well all spring,” Hargrove said. “He never came in and talked to me about it, but I know he wanted this. I think he has earned it.”
Hernandez said he wanted to be named the No. 1 starter but he didn’t expect it until next year.
“To be the opening-day