Mariners Insider Blog

Felix needs work - on his back and his fastball

Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez didn't take the field with teammates for their pre-game stretch and batting practice, instead staying in the training room to have his stiff back treated.

"We limited Felix's activities today," manager Eric Wedge said. "Right now, we don't have any concern about his next start. When we took him out last night, he wanted to keep going."

If the back is no major concern, Felix's recent issues with command of his fastball worry him, and pitching coach Carl Willis spent much of his morning reviewing video of his right-hander.

"There are couple little mechanical things we've talked about," Willis said."All pitchers have pitches flatten out from time to time. Felix needs to focus on his arm angle a little more at times, and he will.

"If you think fans have high expectations for him, I can promise you his are even higher for himself."

Wedge said Hernandez is far tougher on himself than a manager or pitching coach would be.

"Her's been unhappy with himself at times this season, and the truth is no one can always be great," Wedge said. "Felix is a great self-examiner. We want players to take responsibility, but sometimes he takes too much on himself.

"Everything stems from his fastball, and when he's pitching on a downward plane, everything is at the knees. When he struggles, he falls behind hitters and creates issues for himself. Pitchers don't adjust game to game, sometimes they have to adjust pitch to pitch."

Disappointed as Felix has been with himself, his record is 4-4, his earned run average 3.42 and he's held opposing hitters to a .251 average. In a team-high 81 2/3 innings, he's allowed nine home runs, walked 26 batters and struck out 81.