Felix perfect in two-inning rehab start

August 3rd, 2019

HOUSTON -- If Felix Hernandez is going to come back before this season runs out for the Mariners, he’ll need to face more than Minor League hitters in the Class A Short Season Northwest League. But the veteran right-hander took the first step toward that return with two perfect innings in a rehab start for the Everett AquaSox on Friday night.

Hernandez, who has been sidelined by shoulder issues since May 11, retired six batters in a row while facing the Spokane Indians in a 5-2 AquaSox win. He struck out two while throwing 20 pitches, including 13 strikes.

“It was good to be back on the mound,” Hernandez told reporters in Everett. “Physically, I felt fine. I just have to keep working and building up.”

The 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner has had a rough season for the Mariners in the final year of a contract that is paying him $27 million this year, going 1-4 with a 6.52 ERA in eight starts before his shoulder gave way.

Hernandez said last week that he needs to get back on the mound before the end of the season to show teams he’s capable of pitching if he wants to keep pitching in the Majors next season.

“I had a lot of movement on my fastball, good command on the curve and a good changeup; I’m really happy about it,” Hernandez said. “But I have to build it up. I only threw two innings and 20 pitches.”

There’s no word yet on when Hernandez’s next start will come, but it’ll be on the road somewhere as both Everett and Triple-A Tacoma -- the Mariners’ two nearby farm clubs -- are away from home next week.

George Kirby, the Mariners’ first-round Draft pick out of Elon University this June, followed Hernandez and threw a scoreless third inning, striking out the side. In his first five professional outings, Kirby has a 0.82 ERA over 11 innings.