Zoning in on Felix Hernandez


Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we examine every player on the 2016 Mariners in the lead-up to Opening Day. We explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos.

The Mariners have what every team wants: the certifiable ace you can hand the ball to year after year on Opening Day. As the Mariners begin their 2016 season, Felix Hernandez will start his ninth opener—the most in Mariners history by a good margin.

“It’s always fun to throw Opening Day,” Hernandez said when it as announced he, of course, would start the opener. “I can’t wait to do that.”

Not only is the total the most in Mariners history, it’s also the most ever by a pitcher before turning 30. And in those eight previous Opening Day starts, the Mariners have never lost. Heading into tomorrow, the Mariners carry a nine-game Opening Day winning streak, which is tied for the longest in the history of baseball.

Speaking of streaks, Felix’s 2015 saw him yet again throw 200 innings, that being the eighth straight season he’s done that—which is a club record and tied for first in the Majors since 2008. He also broke through the 2,000-strikeout barrier in 2015, becoming the fourth-youngest player to do so.

But for Felix, he’s looking for more than personal accomplishments. Now, especially.

“It’s always motivation, every year, trying to do something special. I’m trying to make the playoffs,” he said. “It drives me crazy. It’s been a while. A long time. Well, I’ve never been in the playoffs in the big leagues and I can’t wait to be there.”

His manager agrees. It’s time.

“I talked with him a little about it in the offseason,” said Scott Servais. “Felix has never thrown a pitch in the playoffs. And it’s time. We have a lot of work to do to get there and he knows that as well, but for a player to have that kind of career and not pitch in the playoffs yet, it’s up to us to get the pieces around him and it’s up to him to pull a few guys along with him. It’s going to be a joint effort.”

If it’s going to happen, Felix repeating what he did last year against the Mariners biggest rivals would certainly help. Last year, he went 11-3 with 2.87 ERA against the American League West.

Off the Field

Felix’s presence is not only felt on the mound, but also in the community. Just this past offseason, he donated $100,000 in grants to several local non-profits. Those included Boys & Girls Clubs of King County; Washington State Little League Districts 8/9 Challenger program for children with disabilities; Baseball Beyond Borders; Seattle Central Little League; and Seattle Children’s Hospital Strong Against Cancer initiative

Of course, donating money is one thing—and donating time is another. Felix is happy to do both.

Felix has also served as a spokesman for the Seattle Humane Society. That’s very fitting, as he has a few dogs of his own.

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