Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez isn’t planning on an extended stint as a reliever.
The Mariners removed their longtime ace from the starting rotation on Thursday and transitioned him to a bullpen role. The 32-year-old Hernandez is 8-10 with a 5.73 ERA in 23 starts for a Mariners team chasing a playoff spot. His ERA is easily the highest of his 14-year career, and he had gone 0-4 in his last five starts before losing his spot in the rotation.
Hernandez, the 2010 American League Cy Young winner, has yet to make an appearance out of the bullpen in three games since the Mariners moved him to a relief role.
While Hernadez said he’ll do ‘whatever’s possible to help the team’ he’s determined to earn his starting role back.
“I’m just going to go for it,” Hernandez told reporters. “Just try to be better. If they need me at the end to start a game, I’ll be ready for that, too. I’m going to be a starter anyway. I’m not a reliever. I’m a starter.”
Hernandez, who had started 398 games, all with Mariners, has the fourth-most starts in major league history without a relief appearance and initially bristled at the move. But he said that a long conversation with his wife and other family members helped him accept the decision. Additionally, he insisted to reporters that most of issues are mechanical and have stemmed from lack of control on his fastball.
“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.”
—Field Level Media