Mariners Insider Blog

Pregame notes and Eric Wedge video -- Jaso to catch Felix for the first time this season

A few quick notes from the pregame media session and open clubhouse with the Mariners.

First of all, it's important to note that John Jaso will be catching Felix Hernandez for the first time in a regular season game. Prior to that, Jaso has only caught Hernandez during one spring training game and a couple bullpen sessions.

We all know how much every one of Felix's pitches move. It's caused problems for any person that's caught him in the past, particularly Kenji Johjima, Rob Johnson, Miguel Olivo and Jesus Montero (none of whom would be confused with Johnny Bench or Pudge Rodriguez).

But Wedge didn't seem too concerned for Jaso.

"John's come a long ways," Wedge said. "He's much more comfortable than he was earlier. It's a good opportunity for him to catch Felix."

Jaso admitted his experiences is limited in seeing Hernandez as both a catcher and a hitter.

"I haven't caught him since then, not even bullpen sessions," Jaso said. "I never hit against him either when I was the Rays. His changeup is so tough on lefties so I always sat the bench whenever we faced him."

So when Jaso finally got behind the plate and began receiving pitches from the former Cy Young award winner, it was even better than he expected.

"It was pretty cool to see it," Jaso said. "He throws his curveball real hard and has tight spin. But so much of it is the consistency of his delivery. He hides the ball really well so you can't pick up the spin until its right on you. Before you know it, the ball is doing something different than the pitch before."

So does that make it difficult as a catcher?

"It only becomes difficult when the ball moves in a different direction than you are expecting," Jaso said.

The best example would be when Felix throws that two-seam fastball and instead of sinking, the ball cuts instead because of the finger pressure.

As for the process of calling the game, we all know Felix calls his own game. Watch a game closely, and he isn't afraid to shake off any catcher. He throws what he wants to throw. But Jaso wants to make his pitcher as comfortable as possible.

"I try and get on the same page as much possible by trying to read his patterns," Jaso said.

If he does talk to the pitcher before the game, he will ask more about pitch location then pitch selection, like how he wants to throw his breaking ball to a left-hander with two strikes.

"It's different with a guy like Felix, because you get two strikes on a hitter and you can pick four different pitches and four different locations to get the guy out and all four would work," Jaso said.

And with any pitcher, you never know what's going to work on any given day. Sometimes the two-seam will be really good, other times it may be the changeup. And that can vary from the warm-up to the bullpen to the mound.

"You should have seen Millwood's bullpen before the game in Colorado," Jaso said. "He was all over the place. He might have thrown a handful of pitches into my body. The rest I was reaching for. But we got into the game and he couldn't do anything but throw it into my glove."

Notes

  • Miguel Olivo is starting at catcher and batting third for the Rainiers tonight in Iowa. The immediate schedule for Olivo is to have him catch tonight, DH tomorrow and then catch again on Wednesday. Wedge said they won't make a decision on Olivo until he is able to catch nine full innings.
  • Wedge said he expects Felix to bounce back with a good start tonight. He noted that his ace's tendency to pitch well in big games. As for his last start, he just called it a bad day where nothing went right.
  • Seattle has lost 13 of its last 19 games against the Rangers at Safeco Field.
  • Being back at Safeco is still a welcome site. The Mariners have played 28 road games this season - more than anyone in MLB.
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