In today’s News Tribune, columnist John McGrath writes that the Mariners should shut down Felix Hernandez for the remainder of the season. It’s a sentiment that his shared by many fans of the team.
From John’s column ….
A “minor” oblique strain? Sorry, not buying it. Maybe it’s that word – “minor” – which gives me pause. Wedge suffered what the Mariners reported to be a minor stroke on July 24, and we all know how “minor” that turned out to be.
My expertise on oblique injuries is confined to the suspicion there’s a reason oblique, an abdominal muscle, is pronounced “oh, bleak.” Recovery time for a pitcher typically requires six to eight weeks of complete inactivity.
Because Hernandez’s oblique strain is considered minor, he’ll throw the ball off the mound this weekend in St. Louis, where a timetable regarding his next start will be made.
Here’s a suggestion for the Mariners: Tell King Felix he’s loved and admired and has earned every penny of the lucky-for-life, $175 million contract extension he signed in February. Then tell him his work in 2013 is done.
If there’s a playoff berth in the mix, this discussion is tense and complicated. But even the craziest notion of the Mariners contending expired, oh, about two months ago.
If Hernandez is a candidate to win the Cy Young Award for the second time, again, the question of whether to give him three or more starts is layered in nuance.
There hasn’t been any Cy Young talk regarding Hernandez since late July, when he remained a threat to finish as league leader in ERA and strikeouts. Still, the 3.01 ERA is consistent with the portfolio of a future Hall of Famer, as are the strikeouts: He achieved the 200 plateau, for the fifth time in five years, in Kansas City.
What else is there for Hernandez to prove? That he’s a rare talent? That he’s a gritty, feisty athlete who’d rather pitch in pain than sip fruit drinks from a straw in some luxury suite? That he’s the guy you’d most want on the mound in a game that counts?
It’s tough to argue with McGrath’s logic in all of this. Of course, there is one guy who is arguing — Felix Hernandez. He wants to pitch. He said it to us the other day at Safeco Field. He said yesterday on the radio on great interview with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett on Sports Radio KJR. It starts about 18 minutes into the segment.
To quote Hernandez on being shutdown: “It’s not going to happen. I’m fine.”
Pitching 200 innings in a season is a mark that every starting pitcher wants to attain. It’s a mark of consistency and durability. It’s something important to Hernandez. He’s thrown 194 1/3 innings.
So what would you do? Could one start hurt that much? If he says he is healthy, would you start him? Or do you shut him down for the season.