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Old 01-25-2007, 10:17 PM   #1
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Big change: Hernandez lean, ready
After losing 20 pounds, Mariners star primed for breakout season

DARRIN BEENE; The News Tribune
Published: January 25th, 2007 01:00 AM


TED S. WARREN/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez sports a slimmer look Wednesday.

Of all the adjectives used to describe Felix Hernandez last season, “lean” rarely was heard.

The Seattle Mariners pitcher has taken steps – some of them while jogging – to change that in hopes of improving upon last year’s performance. At 226 pounds, he is 20 pounds lighter after a winter of working out and eating better in his native Venezuela.

“If the season were to start tomorrow, I’m ready for the season,” a noticeably slimmer Hernandez said Wednesday at the team’s pre-spring training luncheon at Safeco Field.

Last year Hernandez showed up in Peoria, Ariz., tipping the scales at 246 pounds instead of the 230 the Mariners wanted. The extra weight became an issue when Hernandez developed shin splints and missed the last two weeks of spring training – not exactly the start to the season that manager Mike Hargrove envisioned.

At the end of the year, Hargrove and pitching coach Rafael Chaves stressed to Hernandez (12-14, 4.52 ERA in 2006) that he needed to improve his conditioning if he was to realize his considerable potential.

A program was developed that included exercise and diet. Hernandez, also now sporting shorter hair than last season, said he has been eating more vegetables and fewer fatty foods.

“I’ve been working pretty hard. I’ve been trying to get into the best shape I’ve ever been,” said Hernandez, who admitted that he was not in peak condition at the beginning of last season.

Mariners officials are pleased with his effort.

“He is in great shape,” trainer Rick Griffin said. “He’s been doing all of his exercises, his shoulder work, stomach and core work, his cardio work.”

General manager Bill Bavasi praised not only Hernandez’s physique but his psyche. He said one of the mistakes young players make is to underestimate what they need to do to be a major leaguer. The issue isn’t laziness, Bavasi said, but a lack of experience.

“His heart is in the right place, he just made a mistake and that’s just part of a 19-year-old coming to (big-league) camp,” Bavasi said.

“But you don’t see this guy making a mistake twice. He is so special, this guy. … When I saw him today I was stunned. This guy looks like a guy who is very prepared, very focused.”

Bavasi said Hernandez will be ready to expand his workload, and the Mariners still are trying to come up with a plan to monitor its star pitcher. His innings, which were limited to 191 last season, won’t be as much of a factor as his pitch counts.

Good health remains the team’s top priority – and the only goal Hernandez would share with gathered media Wednesday. Other goals are being established, and new Mariners bench coach John McLaren challenged Hernandez to pitch like his countryman, two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins.

For now, the team is happy with the work Hernandez has done over the past three months.

“He is a leaner, better version,” Hargrove said. “Does that translate into more than 200 innings? We start Feb. 15 and then we’ll find out.”


http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports...-5524775c.html
By far, the best news of the offseason for M's fans.

Average starter...

TOR, I'm-going-to-strike-your-ass-out-four-times starter...

Big, big things are ahead for this guy...good to know he's got his head on straight.
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Old 01-25-2007, 11:16 PM   #2
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You usually hear players take this approach when they are in their late 20s-early 30s, not 20 years young. I didn't think Felix pitched as bad as his ERA last season. On many occasions, he'd be cruising along for four-to-five innings and one rotten one would ruin his start.

The best stat of all, Felix had the fourth highest groundball-to-flyball in the American League last year. Sinkerballers Chien-Ming Wang and Jake Westbrook were 1 and 2 and Roy Halladay was #3. Felix was well ahead of the #5 guy in Joel Piniero.

Barring arm injury, I still think he's going to have a fabulous career.
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Old 01-25-2007, 11:32 PM   #3
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You usually hear players take this approach when they are in their late 20s-early 30s, not 20 years young. I didn't think Felix pitched as bad as his ERA last season. On many occasions, he'd be cruising along for four-to-five innings and one rotten one would ruin his start.

The best stat of all, Felix had the fourth highest groundball-to-flyball in the American League last year. Sinkerballers Chien-Ming Wang and Jake Westbrook were 1 and 2 and Roy Halladay was #3. Felix was well ahead of the #5 guy in Joel Piniero.

Barring arm injury, I still think he's going to have a fabulous career.
...and that was without his excellent two-seamer (at least it didn't have the same crazy movement in '06 as it did in '05). His two-seam fastball literally looks like a 97 MPH breaking ball...it breaks down and to the right and is just death to hitters.

Totally right about the one-bad-inning thing, too. It seemed to be a product of lack of experience, though.
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Old 01-26-2007, 12:08 AM   #4
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...and that was without his excellent two-seamer (at least it didn't have the same crazy movement in '06 as it did in '05). His two-seam fastball literally looks like a 97 MPH breaking ball...it breaks down and to the right and is just death to hitters.

Totally right about the one-bad-inning thing, too. It seemed to be a product of lack of experience, though.
-Slap- and me were so impressed by that heavy fastball during his 05 callup, we both used high draft choices on King Felix last spring in some fantasy leagues and paid for it.

Felix really ticked me off on several occasions last season. The ugly outing in Oakland was hard to swallow, but there were times when my jaw would drop to my knees just watching him bring it. The game he pitched against the Red Sox at Fenway last summer was a thing of beauty. When I renew my MLB.TV subscription, that might be the first game I watch on the archives.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:03 AM   #5
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Unfortunately, Felix is about as immature as any 20 year old who's had his ass kissed for a long period of time. Some people think he started reading his own press clippings and he let the King Felix nickname go to his head. I hope he shows a more professional approach this year. He can be as good as anybody.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:14 AM   #6
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-Slap- and me were so impressed by that heavy fastball during his 05 callup, we both used high draft choices on King Felix last spring in some fantasy leagues and paid for it.

Felix really ticked me off on several occasions last season. The ugly outing in Oakland was hard to swallow, but there were times when my jaw would drop to my knees just watching him bring it. The game he pitched against the Red Sox at Fenway last summer was a thing of beauty. When I renew my MLB.TV subscription, that might be the first game I watch on the archives.
When you renew your subscription let me know...we are still sharing it. Need to watch the Dodgers win the NL West ya know?
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Old 01-26-2007, 04:54 PM   #7
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Last time i checked a rotation is 5 deep. Not one.
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:40 PM   #8
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Last time i checked a rotation is 5 deep. Not one.
You just scurrrrrrreddddddd. Miguel Batista and Jarrod Washburn are fo' real!
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Old 01-27-2007, 08:54 PM   #9
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Im scared? Ok ill see your felix,batista,washburn and raise you Schilling,Beckett(with a year in the AL under his belt)Papelbon,Matsuzaka,Wakefield and lester(will probably start in AAA until hes back up to full health .
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:08 PM   #10
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Im scared? Ok ill see your felix,batista,washburn and raise you Schilling,Beckett(with a year in the AL under his belt)Papelbon,Matsuzaka,Wakefield and lester(will probably start in AAA until hes back up to full health .
You Boston fans are always so uptight...sheesh. HA
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:39 PM   #11
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You Boston fans are always so uptight...sheesh. HA
im just havin some fun, i CANT WAIT for baseball season to start. but in the mean time ill rub in the fact that the pats lost some more!
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Old 01-28-2007, 03:40 AM   #12
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You Boston fans are always so uptight...sheesh. HA
Tell that to JD Drew...
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