Felix Hernandez getting closer to Cactus League debut
Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez threw 32 pitches in a live batting-practice session with minor-leaguers, another step closer to pitching in his first game of the spring.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PEORIA, Ariz. — Felix Hernandez says he's just about ready to make his Cactus League debut at the end of next week.
Hernandez threw 32 pitches over 10 minutes in a live batting-practice session with some pretty enthused Mariners minor-leaguers Thursday morning. By the time it was done, a sweaty Hernandez said he felt great and can't wait to start throwing in games.
"I'm almost there," Hernandez said. "I'm almost 100 percent. Like I said, my mechanics are pretty good. I had good balance and I feel good."
Hernandez threw all the pitches in his repertoire to a minor-league contingent of Mike Dowd, James Jones, Ji-Man Choi and Gabby Guerrero — the nephew of former all-star Vladimir Guerrero. Other than a couple of soft hits, nobody really took any hard swings.
Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis said the plan is to see how Hernandez feels Friday, then schedule another live batting-practice session for Sunday or Monday.
"It will be a more intense BP session," Willis said. "Maybe something closer to a simulated game."
Then, five days after that, Hernandez will make his Cactus League debut on either Friday or Saturday. The plan is to have him throw two innings.
Garland solid in victory over Giants
Mariners nonroster invitee Jon Garland pitched in a game for the first time in nearly two years Thursday, tossing a scoreless first inning in an eventual 4-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Garland got three ground-ball outs against a lineup of Giants regulars, while allowing a walk and a single.
"It was definitely a little weird," Garland said. "But it felt good to get out there in a true game situation. It felt really good considering they had their top-line guys there for their first three at-bats. Being able to face them and get some ground balls and see some movement on the ball, it was a good feeling."
The lone hit he surrendered was a comebacker by Buster Posey that got by Garland's glove for a hit. Garland, a top fielder at his position, later chided himself for not making the play.
He added that the whole experience took getting used to again.
"I hadn't been out there in so long," he said. "Just with umpires out there in uniform and throwing to guys like that. I've been throwing bullpens and throwing on back fields. I've done that but until you get into a game situation and get the blood flowing, you really don't know how you're going to feel."
• Carter Capps allowed two singles to start the eighth inning, but then struck out the side.
• Justin Smoak had another extra-base hit from the left side, drilling a deep double to left-center in the second inning off Giants starter Matt Cain. Smoak later added an infield single from the right side.
• Blake Beavan tossed three innings of two-run ball — striking out three batters — after Garland left the game.
• Franklin Gutierrez and Nick Franklin each hit solo home runs as the Mariners won their sixth Cactus League game in a row.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners
On Twitter @gbakermariners
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