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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mariners' Felix Hernandez, Taijuan Walker fine, just pacing themselves


By on 2/22/2014 07:00:00 PM

Seattle Mariners fans can rest easy. "King" Felix Hernandez is just fine. Even though Hernandez has started off Spring Training on a slower pace than most other pitchers, it is simply part of his own routine. MLB.com's Greg Johns reminds us that Hernandez has begun camp slowly most every year to cut down on his load early on.

By Mike Tigas, via Wikimedia Commons
Hernandez has averaged 218 innings each year since becoming a full-time starter in 2006. Those innings put a lot of strain on his still young arm (age 28 in April), so his slower pace in Spring Training will help leave something in the tank for the end of the season when the Mariners, who have made major acquisitions in attempt to reach the postseason, will need him most.

Hernandez will likely wait until early March to pitch in exhibition games so he can use the time to complete his workouts first. He is one bullpen session behind, but his personal routine will have him ready for game activity well before the season begins.

King Felix is 110-86 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.203 WHIP in his nine years, all with Seattle. He was the 2010 A.L. Cy Young winner with a 13-12 record. He won it because of his 2.27 ERA in 249.2 innings that year.

The same holds true for rookie Taijuan Walker. The Mariners do not want to overload his young arm (age 21). He felt soreness after pre-camp bullpen sessions, and he also needs to build arm strength to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Slowing down gave his arm a chance to heal so he can complete his bullpen sessions before he starts throwing batting practice. The Mariners say that the soreness is gone, so Walker can now step up his throwing.


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