PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners manager Scott Servais admits it's been an odd feeling working through Spring Training with many of his best players missing as they take part in the World Baseball Classic.Servais will be following on MLB Network with a keen eye when two of his starting pitchers -- Drew
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners manager Scott Servais admits it's been an odd feeling working through Spring Training with many of his best players missing as they take part in the World Baseball Classic.
Servais will be following on MLB Network with a keen eye when two of his starting pitchers -- Drew Smyly and Felix Hernandez -- face each other in Wednesday's Pool F matchup between Venezuela and the United States at 6 p.m. PT in San Diego, which will also air live on MLB.TV.
"That will be interesting," Servais said. "We will be watching."
Hernandez, already named Seattle's Opening Day starter for a 10th time, gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings, taking the loss in Venezuela's 11-0 loss to Puerto Rico on Friday.
Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel officially announced Wednesday's starter on Tuesday night, and Hernandez will be pitching on a normal four days of rest after taking the ball for Venezuela's opener.
Smyly was added to Team USA for the second round from the designated pitchers pool to replace Kansas City's Danny Duffy. He's been sharp this spring for Seattle, allowing just one hit in eight scoreless innings over three outings, after being acquired by trade from the Rays.
Servais' first priority is getting his players back healthy and ready to resume workouts with the Mariners, as they gear up for Opening Day in less than three weeks.
The Mariners had 12 players taking part in the Classic, third most of any Major League club behind only the 14 each of the Mets and Tigers. Outfielder Tyler O'Neill rejoined the Mariners on Tuesday after Canada was eliminated, and pitcher Yovani Gallardo and catcher Sebastian Valle are expected back Wednesday with Mexico out of the competition.
But the bulk of Seattle's biggest names are continuing on in the second round, which runs through Thursday in Tokyo and through Sunday in San Diego, with the chance to advance to the Championship Round in Los Angeles from March 20-22.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Seattle's heart of the order -- Jean Segura, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz -- is still playing for the defending-champion Dominican Republic. And even with Gallardo back, the Mariners are still minus two starters in Hernandez and Smyly, as well as closer Edwin Diaz (Puerto Rico).
"I wish the tournament was a little shorter, but obviously we've got good players playing on good teams, and they're going to play for a while," Servais said. "When you take the 2-3-4 hitters out, and a big part of our club and the pitching on top of that, we knew coming in this would be a different camp."
O'Neill, a 21-year-old who is Seattle's No. 2 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, said the atmosphere for the Classic games in Miami was electric.
"It's crazy. You've got to really be there to hear the noise," said O'Neill, who played for Double-A Jackson last year. "You can't grasp it on TV. If the ball was in the air, you basically just rely on your instincts and who has the better positioning. You don't have too much communication going on."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Tokyo Dome and Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.