When Cincinnati infielder Kris Negron stepped to home plate today - becoming the first big-league hitter to face Felix Hernandez fastball to the ribs. Oops.
"I don't know what happened on that pitch," the Mariners ace said. "I tried to throw a back-door sinker. It didn't sink."
After putting the first runner he faced on base, Hernandez found himself - and threw three perfect innings, striking out four. The command was there. The velocity. The breaking pitches.
"The next time out, I'll throw 65 pitches," Hernandez said. "Then the next time, 80 pitches, and I'm ready to go."
Hernandez will start every fifth day, which means starts on March 11th, 16 and 21st - the latter the Mariners final day in Arizona before opening in Tokyo on March 28.
"It seems like every other spring to me," Hernandez said of the camp. "It's not different at all."
What was it like pitching in his first game after only throwing two simulated innings last week to minor league hitters?
"About time," he said, laughing.
He grew serious only once, when asked about teammate and long-time friend, fellow Venezuelan Carlos Guillen, who retired today.
"He told me this morning, and it was real sad. I'm going to miss him. I kept saying 'Don't do it, don't dfo it!' because I know he can still do this," Hernandez said. "When I signed with the Mariners I was 16 years old and the first guy I met was Carlos.
"He's a good man, a good friend. I will miss him."