MCT REGIONAL NEWS
It might be difficult to maintain humility when King County changes its name for a day to “King Felix County,” but Felix Hernandez managed.
Two days after throwing the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history, the accolades just kept coming, but Hernandez spent much of his free time Friday at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.
“I love my visits there, seeing the kids,” Hernandez said.
As for the aftermath of the perfect game against Tampa Bay, Felix shook his head.
“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I still can’t believe I did it, and to do it here, in front of our fans? That made it even more special.”
When he came off the field, finished his interviews and had a moment to check, there were 120 messages on his cellphone and 300 missed calls.
Felix’s first call was to his wife, Sandra, who’d flown home with their children to Venezuela last week.
“I heard from Adrian (Beltre), Raul (Ibañez), (Jose) Vidroa lot of friends,” he said.
Felix has the ball he threw for the final strike of the game, and he will send a jersey to the Hall of Fame. As for his next start – Tuesday at Safeco Field – he said he’ll try to make it the same as every other start.
That might not be easy.
Those yellow-shirted King’s Court fans tucked into the left-field corner when he pitches? Well on Tuesday, the first 34,000 fans through the gates will get a yellow “King of Perfection” T-shirt.
Catcher John Jaso, who handled Felix against Tampa, talked about the reactions of hitters during that game.
“Guys like Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, they looked at Felix’s curve and said ‘You can’t hit that pitch!’ and I agreed with them,” Jaso said. “I told them, ‘It’s a tip your cap day,’ and it was.”
As expected, left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush was recalled from Tacoma and reinstated in the bullpen after being on the disabled list since June 18 with a strained tricep.
The surprise was who was optioned out.
The expectation was that rookie Carter Capps would go, but instead, it was right-hander Shawn Kelley, who was 2-3 with a 3.41 earned run average.
“Kelley had options, and we wanted to continue to see other pitchers,” manager Eric Wedge said.
Miguel Olivo started at catcher Friday against Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn. Why not Jesus Montero? Olivo had a career average of .476 against Blackburn, with two doubles, a triple and three home runs.In their first 32 games since the All-Star break, the Mariners’ 19-13 record ranked second in the American League behind Oakland.Rookie Stephen Pryor has held opponents hitless (0-for-16) with runners on base. Toss in his 16 games with Tacoma, and opposing hitters are 0-for-50 with a runner on base.
Seattle will host Minnesota Saturday in a 6:10 p.m. game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Scott Diamond (10-5, 2.97 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (13-8, 3.56).