Shaky Hernandez vows to return to Mariners' rotation soon - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Shaky Hernandez vows to return to Mariners' rotation soon

(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong). Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez delvers a pitch during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, July 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong). Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez delvers a pitch during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, July 28, 2018.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren). Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez makes a crossing gesture while he holds the baseball as he takes the mound at the start of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Se... (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren). Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez makes a crossing gesture while he holds the baseball as he takes the mound at the start of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Se...
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren). Seattle Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre talks with starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) in the dugout after the top of the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018... (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren). Seattle Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre talks with starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) in the dugout after the top of the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018...
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade). Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez waits as Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. The R... (AP Photo/Brandon Wade). Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez waits as Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. The R...

By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) - Felix Hernandez vowed Saturday that his first-ever stint in Seattle's bullpen won't last long.

"I'll be a starter before the end of the year," Hernandez told The Associated Press. "No question about it."

The struggling Mariners ace has made 398 career starts in 14 seasons, never once pitching in relief. He was bumped from the rotation on Thursday night, the latest setback in a tough year in which he has a career-high 5.73 ERA and is 0-4 in his last five starts.

For the longtime face of this franchise, it was difficult to digest the team's decision to have him pitch in relief and he said it took him a couple of days to come to terms with it. Conversations with family and friends and encouragement from his wife Sandra, who he has been with since he was 14, helped.

"My wife is here. She flew here," Hernandez said. "We had a good conversation. And she told me: 'Just go out there and be the leader that you've been all these years. Be you. Be you.'"

And that, Hernandez said, is exactly what he plans to do. Though the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner sees this only as a temporary setback, he's prepared to embrace his new role for the good of a team that's in contention to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

"I'm just part of the team and I'm going to do whatever's possible to help the team," he said.

The 32-year-old Hernandez is 8-10 with a 5.73 ERA in 23 starts for a Mariners team chasing a playoff spot.

Hernandez, who has the fourth-most starts in MLB history without a relief appearance, has spent two games in the bullpen, but has yet to appear in a game. He shared his first impressions of the experience.

"It's boring. I'm telling you," he said with a laugh.

Both nights he's trotted with closer Edwin Diaz to the bullpen in left-center field at Minute Maid Park, where the Mariners are playing the AL West-leading Astros. Hernandez said he's picked his brain about relieving, but he's far from the only one he's reached out to for advice on the move.

"I've been talking with everyone in the bullpen him, Alex Colome, everybody," he said. "(They said) just go out there and have fun."

Hernandez pointed out that he's appeared in the All-Star game several times out of the bullpen, but admitted that he "might need some time" to get warmed up to enter a game.

He said the team didn't tell him anything specific that they need to see from him for him to get his starting job back, but he knows that he'll have to improve his fastball command to turn things around.

"The problem is my location of the fastball," he said. "If I locate my fastball, I'll be good because I've got many weapons to go out there and have good games so I have to locate my fastball."

Hernandez said he believes the problem is mechanical and said he's trying several different things to try and get back on track.

When facing reporters following his recent tough starts, including his last one against Texas in which he allowed a career-high 11 runs - seven of them earned - he seemed discouraged and a bit down.

It was a different Hernandez who spoke on Saturday. It wasn't quite the King Felix who threw a perfect game in 2012 and led the AL in ERA in both 2010 and 2014. But there were unmistakable notes of the swagger and bravado that were hallmarks of the presence he had on the mound when he was one of the game's most dominant pitchers.

He smiled easily and cracked jokes, his glossy ringlets bouncing around as he laughed. He said instead of getting mad about the move or letting it hurt his feelings, he's using it as motivation.

"All it does is encourage me to get back," he said before flashing one last smile.

___

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Republicans blast Pearl Jam poster of burning White House

    Republicans blast Pearl Jam poster of burning White House

    Wednesday, August 15 2018 12:51 PM EDT2018-08-15 16:51:31 GMT
    Thursday, August 16 2018 11:26 AM EDT2018-08-16 15:26:59 GMT
    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). President Donald Trump speaks in Utica, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at a joint fundraising committee reception in Utica, N.Y.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster). President Donald Trump speaks in Utica, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at a joint fundraising committee reception in Utica, N.Y.
    Republicans are condemning a poster by Pearl Jam that shows the White House in flames and a bald eagle pecking at a skeleton they say is meant to depict President Donald Trump.More >>
    Republicans are condemning a poster by Pearl Jam that shows the White House in flames and a bald eagle pecking at a skeleton they say is meant to depict President Donald Trump.More >>
  • Nevada Democrats hope Latinos can propel them to victory

    Nevada Democrats hope Latinos can propel them to victory

    Thursday, August 16 2018 2:18 AM EDT2018-08-16 06:18:18 GMT
    Thursday, August 16 2018 11:13 AM EDT2018-08-16 15:13:05 GMT
    (AP Photo/John Locher). In this Aug. 15, 2018, photo, Maria Nieto, right, and Alma Romo, second from left, register people to vote in Las Vegas. Democrats in Nevada are working to register and engage Latino voters ahead of this year's midterms, hoping ...(AP Photo/John Locher). In this Aug. 15, 2018, photo, Maria Nieto, right, and Alma Romo, second from left, register people to vote in Las Vegas. Democrats in Nevada are working to register and engage Latino voters ahead of this year's midterms, hoping ...
    Nevada Democrats are working to register and engage Latino voters ahead of this year's midterms, hoping to re-create the big wins the state's Hispanic and immigrant community helped deliver in 2016.More >>
    Nevada Democrats are working to register and engage Latino voters ahead of this year's midterms, hoping to re-create the big wins the state's Hispanic and immigrant community helped deliver in 2016.More >>
  • Pawlenty loss shows Minnesota GOP's reluctance to coronate

    Pawlenty loss shows Minnesota GOP's reluctance to coronate

    Wednesday, August 15 2018 1:56 AM EDT2018-08-15 05:56:09 GMT
    Thursday, August 16 2018 11:12 AM EDT2018-08-16 15:12:55 GMT
    (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP). Tim Pawlenty stands with his wife, Mary, background left, and running mate Michelle Fischbach as he concedes his run for governor at his election night gathering at Granite City Food and Brewery, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 201...(Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune via AP). Tim Pawlenty stands with his wife, Mary, background left, and running mate Michelle Fischbach as he concedes his run for governor at his election night gathering at Granite City Food and Brewery, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 201...
    Minnesota voters have rejected Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's quest to win back his old job, effectively ending the one-time presidential candidate's political career.More >>
    Minnesota voters have rejected Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's quest to win back his old job, effectively ending the one-time presidential candidate's political career.More >>
Powered by Frankly