King Felix upset by opening day decision, but not surprised


    Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez throws against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Felix Hernandez doesn't think he could have changed the mind of Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais about opening day, even by pitching well this spring.

    With his ERA approaching 16, it's a moot point.

    King Felix is royally agitated anyway.

    Hernandez was tagged for seven runs in three-plus innings against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, raising his spring ERA to 15.95 a day after Servais announced that Marco Gonzales would start Seattle's season opener against Oakland in Tokyo on March 20.

    Seattle's decision ends Hernandez's run of 10 consecutive opening day starts.

    Hernandez spoke publicly after the game for the first time since Servais' announcement. Asked if he was upset, Hernandez said simply, "Yeah," but declined to elaborate on his emotions.

    "I knew it was going to happen," he added.

    Hernandez was also asked if he could have convinced Servais to give him the opening day nod with a better spring camp.

    "No," he said while shaking his head.

    The 32-year-old has been losing fastball velocity since his mid-20s and been mostly hobbled and ineffective since turning 30.

    The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner had a career-worst 5.55 ERA in 29 games last season and was briefly removed from the rotation for the first time in the majors. This is his final season of a $175 million, seven-year contract.

    The Mariners have asked Hernandez to use his curveball more this spring, especially early in counts, because data suggests it's the right-hander's most effective pitch. Hernandez used the breaking ball often during a 1-2-3 first inning but got away from it as the game wore on.

    "He needs to continue to work that in," Servais said. "It's one of his best pitches. Didn't go to it today."

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