LADY AT THE BAT: The Great Northwest Hope

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Great Northwest Hope

Originally uploaded by adroit.

The Seattle Mariners think they have something very special on their hands: their 20-year-old right-handed pitcher, Felix Hernandez.

Hernandez will be starting his second full season in the Majors this coming season and he appears to be ready for it. He's lost 20 pounds and, according to Mike Hargrove, his manager, he's lost that wide-eyed "I can't believe I'm in the Majors" look.

The Venezuelan hurler made his debut for the Mariners on August 8, 2005. I remember I was in Seattle shortly after that, and the town was still buzzing about that debut. He was scheduled to make his second start the day I arrived. I watched a local pre-game sports report on TV that evening and came away with the impression that the local media thought he was the second coming of both Ichiro and Ken Griffy, Jr combined. If that's true, they'd better start painting over Ichiro's picture now; he must be on every other billboard in the city!

Last year, in his first full season, Hernandez compiled a 12-14 record in 31 games with a 3.96 ERA. Under .500, but not a bad ERA for a rookie American League pitcher. His best game was probably an August 28th five-hit shutout against the Angels, in which he tossed only 95 pitches.

I'm always happy to see the development of good young pitching. I don't know if Hernandez will replace Ichiro on all those billboards, but if he continues to do well, he'll at least get to share them.

The Lady

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