Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas, the No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers in the 2010 rotation, won't pitch in a Cactus League exhibition game this week.
Under the prescription written by pitching coach Carl Willis and endorsed by manager Eric Wedge, both pitchers are getting lots of early work - just under controlled situations. Felix will pitch a simulated game on a practice field Thursday, Vargas will do the same a day later.
Why this approach?
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The Mariners are in no hurry to put either man in an increased-adrenaline situation yet, and Hernandez followed this plan last spring, which preceded his Cy Young Award campaign. Want to mess with that kind of history?
Vargas threw a bullpen session this morning, watched by Wedge, Willis and bullpen coach Jaime Navarro. It was a long session, Vargas looked sharp, and he's right on the schedule the Mariners want him on. So is Mr. Hernandez.
It may not seem orthodox, but it's the way it's going to be done.