They’re working toward two days in March – the 28th and 29th – but Seattle Mariners starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas are on very different programs as they work toward the first two games of the regular season.
Those will come in Tokyo, Japan, and Hernandez will pitch the opener. Still, by the end of the day today, weather permitting, Vargas will have appeared in two intra-squad games and thrown a total of five innings.
Ace Hernandez won’t throw in another intra-squad game.
“We’ve backed it off from the 28th and 29th, and mapped it all out, and they’ll both be right where they need to be,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Their programs are different, but they’re both thought out.”
Pitching coach Carl Willis said Felix will pitch two innings in a simulated game Thursday – and off day for the team – and then work every fifth day as he builds toward the opener. Why the difference between the two plans for two pitchers?
“In Felix’s case, if we build him up to 90 pitches before we leave for Japan, I’m comfortable with him throwing as many as 105 in the opener,” Willis said. “In Jason’s case, I’d like to have him throw seven innings before we leave, then give three innings of a simulated game on the off-day we have in Japan.
“That would have him nice and strong for his first start. Felix won’t throw in Japan until the opener. That’s the timing of it.”