Bring on season: Felix is 'definitely ready'
Seattle ace retires 12 of final 13 batters in longest spring outing
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez gave up a pair of runs in the second inning against the White Sox, then settled into a groove and closed out strong in a five-inning Cactus League outing on Tuesday.
Hernandez extended himself to 79 pitches in his longest spring outing yet and pronounced himself prepared to hit the regular season with one start left before Opening Day on April 1 in Oakland.
"Oh yeah, I'm definitely ready," the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner said after retiring the final nine batters he faced in Seattle's 9-5 victory. "I told you guys last time I needed to throw one good game and I'd be fine. That's all I needed to do."
2010 Spring Training - Seattle Mariners
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Hernandez is scheduled to pitch again Sunday, but the Mariners face AL West rival Texas that day, so he might throw instead in a Minor League contest. He said he'll leave that to the Mariners' coaching staff. His focus is simply on where he needs to be on the mound, and Tuesday was a good day as he finally fine-tuned his slider to where he'd like it to be for the regular season.
"The second inning was a little rough," he said. "I was getting behind in the count. But after that, I quit thinking about everything and just threw the ball down in the strike zone. And I felt better, much better."
White Sox right fielder Mark Teahen drove a single up the middle that knocked Hernandez off his feet to get the second-inning rally going, a similar situation to an early Cactus League near-encounter with a line drive up the middle in his spring debut against the A's.
"I fell behind in the count, so after that, I just came right in the middle of the plate and they almost killed me again," he said. "But everything was good today. The sinker was perfect. Curveball was all right. And the slider was way better than last time."
Hernandez mowed down 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. He said he'd like to throw 100 in his final outing. Manager Eric Wedge said he'd definitely get extended a little further in his final spring game, but was pleased with Tuesday's production.
"He had to work early, but I felt like he kept getting better as the game went on," Wedge said. "Again, just great stuff like we've seen all spring. He did a good job utilizing all his pitches. It's not necessarily a bad thing when you've got to work in Spring Training as you're getting built up and prepared for the grind of the season. So I thought it was a good day."
Olivo to catch three innings in Minors game
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Miguel Olivo, out the past 17 days with a strained groin, will catch three innings in a Minor League game for the Mariners on Wednesday as he shoots to return by Opening Day.
Olivo, signed as a free agent to solidify the catching position, fell in a heap on home plate on March 5 after tagging up at third and scoring on a sacrifice fly. He's said from the start that he expected to be ready in time for the regular season, and that appears will be the case.
"He's been doing fantastic, so that's a very positive step," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "If he can stick with his schedule, he'll be in line to break camp with us."
Adam Moore, non-roster invitees Josh Bard and Chris Gimenez and 20-year-old prospect Steven Baron are the other catchers in camp, with Moore likely to earn the backup role or even open the season as the starter if Olivo isn't quite fully healthy.
Catcher Moore making impression at plate
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Adam Moore never quite translated his Minor League hitting success to the Major League level the past two years, but the 26-year-old catcher is quietly having an excellent spring at the plate and has caught the eye of manager Eric Wedge.
Moore went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored in Tuesday's 9-5 win over the White Sox to raise his spring average to .381.
"He's come a long way," Wedge said. "My reference to last year is just conversations, reports and video, but I think he's really gotten after it behind the plate from a catching standpoint and he's really done a fantastic job this spring.
"I think about his first couple games and then reference now. His batting practice has been tremendous, he's really done a good job staying within his approach and he's been able to take that into games. I've been really impressed with his at-bats."
Moore hit .321 at Triple-A Tacoma last year but just .195 in 60 games with the Mariners.
"It took me awhile," Moore said. "Probably the last two weeks of the season, the way I was swinging the bat at the end of the season is who I am. I'm a gap-to-gap hitter. I've always understood my swing and what I can and can't hit. But to discipline yourself every night out, it took me a little bit. Now the way I feel at the plate, I know that's who I am and I'll continue to stay with this approach.
"You've got to have confidence every night. But as soon as you start getting hits at the same time, that's when you start getting into a flow and taking it to that next level."
With Miguel Olivo just coming back from a strained groin, Moore figures to at least split time when the season starts if he wins the backup job. And if he continues hitting, the Mariners will have considerably more offensive output at catcher than a season ago when Moore and Rob Johnson shared time and both struggled.