Felix Hernandez has had the same locker since 2005.Hernandez may be the only player in baseball who can say that.Hernandez is one of a dying breed of baseball players who stay in one city with one franchise for their entire careers. Among active players, only the Twins' Joe Mauer, the
Felix Hernandez has had the same locker since 2005.
Hernandez may be the only player in baseball who can say that.
Hernandez is one of a dying breed of baseball players who stay in one city with one franchise for their entire careers. Among active players, only the Twins' Joe Mauer, the Cardinals' Yadier Molina and the Mets' David Wright -- who hasn't played since 2016 -- have stuck with their teams longer.
"I love this place," Hernandez said. "A lot of cool memories here, to stay here my whole career. I love the city, I love the fans. I'm gonna live a long time here."
Hernandez, now 32, signed with the Mariners as an international free agent out of Venezuela when he was 16. By age 19, he was pitching in his first Major League game.
Trade rumors would spark up, particularly between 2010-11, when Seattle lost 101 and 95 games, respectively. But the Mariners never did move Hernandez. He never hit free agency, either, signing an extension in '13 that gave him the highest average salary given to a pitcher in baseball history at the time.
This July, Hernandez was able to sit back and know he would stay with the Mariners, having earned full no-trade protection with 10-and-5 Rights -- logging 10 years in the Majors and five with the same team.
"It wasn't like that always," Hernandez said. "I don't know, back then, there were rumors, but nothing happened. To be able to stay here has been fun."
Hernandez's effectiveness has waned in recent years as he's dealt with shoulder and back issues. He is 8-9 with a career-high 5.49 ERA in 22 starts. He gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings last week against the Angels, an outing Hernandez called "embarrassing," but bounced back with a five-inning effort on Thursday, allowing two runs on five hits in a no-decision.
The Mariners are in a position to send Hernandez somewhere he's never been during his time with Seattle: the playoffs. The last time the Mariners made the playoffs was one year before they signed Hernandez.
"I would like to make the playoffs with Seattle," Hernandez said. "I want to be here with this team, and we got a pretty good team. If we made the playoffs this year, that would be awesome."
David Gottlieb covers the Mariners for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DGottliebMLB.