M’s notebook: Manager says Felix Hernandez should start All-Star Game; Walker called up
Mariners star pitcher says he’d love to start, but isn’t going to debate the issue
Seattle Times staff reporter
It’s a debate Felix Hernandez wants no part of and one Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon says shouldn’t exist at all.
Whether Hernandez should be the American League starting pitcher for the All-Star Game on July 15 at Minnesota.
“He should start the All-Star Game,’’ McClendon said flatly before the game Saturday against Cleveland. “If they want to win, they should start him.’’
Told of that comment later, Hernandez waved it off, aware that such politicking is better left to others.
“I don’t want to talk about it,’’ he said. “I would love to start. That’s all I’ve got to say.’’
Managers, of course, are supposed to tout their own players.
But it’s hard to argue that the time might finally be right for Hernandez to get the start in what would be his fifth All-Star appearance. (Hernandez has pitched only twice in the All-Star Game, throwing scoreless innings in relief in 2009 and 2013, but not seeing action after being selected in 2011 and 2012.)
By any statistical metric — traditional or SABR — Hernandez is pitching as well as anyone in the American League. He’s tied for third in wins with nine, second in earned-run average at 2.24, second in strikeouts at 128, and first in WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) at 0.947.
And the stars could align just right to have Hernandez in his regular spot in the rotation for the All-Star Game.
Hernandez is scheduled to start Sunday against the Indians, and if he continues to pitch every fifth game, he would make his final start July 10 at Minnesota (the team has an off day July 3 and rainouts could also factor in).
Conversely, one of the other obvious candidates to get the nod, New York’s Masahiro Tanaka, is scheduled to start the Sunday before the All-Star Game, which would rule him out.
Seattle, though, plays host to Oakland in the final three games before the All-Star break, a series taking on greater importance with every Mariner victory of late. And that might tempt McClendon to finagle the rotation to get Hernandez on the mound against the A’s.
That’s a topic McClendon said would wait for a later day, though, saying simply, “We’ll see.’’
If Hernandez were to start, he would be just the second Mariner to do so, joining Randy Johnson, who started in 1995 and 1997.
What isn’t a debate is that Hernandez will be in Minnesota.
“It means a lot,’’ Hernandez said. “It’s always an honor to be part of the game and be around all of those guys.’’
Walker gets call
Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker will make his much-anticipated season debut Monday at Houston, McClendon announced.
It will be the fourth career big-league start for Walker, who tossed a four-hitter in his last rehab start in Tacoma after being bother by shoulder problems all spring.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699