SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Felix Hernandez’s first spring start began with a 400-foot flyout and a walk before the Seattle ace settled down to throw two hitless innings Tuesday in the Mariners’ 9-3 loss to a Colorado Rockies split squad.
Back after posting an AL-best 2.14 ERA last season, the right-hander’s first pitch was hit by Corey Dickerson to the wall in center. After a walk, Carlos Gonzalez grounded into a double play.
”The first pitch was up a little bit. It didn’t sink,” Hernandez said. ”The walk, I was just trying to throw too hard, probably.”
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Hernandez pitched a perfect second. Half of the five-time All-Star’s 18 pitches were strikes.
”For the first time, It feels pretty good,” he said.
Wilin Rosario hit two homers and drove in five runs for Colorado. He hit a two-run shot off Mariners rotation candidate Roenis Elias.
Gonzalez added a bloop single off Elias for his first hit in his second game back from knee surgery.
Offseason acquisition Kyle Kendrick struck out three in two scoreless innings for Colorado.
With Mariners star Robinson Cano away from the team after the death of his grandfather, shortstop Brad Miller started at second and went 2 for 3. He homered twice a day earlier.
Mariners: Seattle pitchers allowed 11 hits, with Dominic Leone (7 runs, 5 hits) the hardest hit.
”The whole game was tough,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Rockies: Kendrick, who spent the past eight seasons in Philadelphia, allowed two hits while working on his cutters and changeups as he pitched on three days’ rest. Kendrick struggled in his first start, giving up three hits and a run in two innings.
”The first start I felt like I’d never pitched in my life before,” Kendrick said. ”My body was all over the place. Today I felt more connected in my delivery. Everything was more fluid.”
Mariners: Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen (back) is scheduled to throw one inning Wednesday.
Rockies: No. 1 starter Jorge De La Rosa’s spring debut was pushed back a second time due to groin tightness. De La Rosa had been scheduled for last Saturday. Then it was Thursday. The new target date is next week. ”We feel like we still have enough time to get him back on track,” manager Walt Weiss said. … SS Troy Tulowitzki gave up a thumbs-up when asked how he was feeling a day after his return from hip surgery. Weiss said he’ll likely play Wednesday. … Weiss said OF Charlie Blackmon (abdominal strain) will make his spring debut by the end of the week.
It wasn’t like Colorado’s traveling squad had it any easier. That other bunch of Rockies faced Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, and wound up in a 2-2 tie.
Hernandez and Kershaw have combined for four Cy Young Awards and nine All-Star appearances.
”It’s fun,” said Weiss, who traveled to Glendale. ”It’s a good opportunity to see the best.”
After four days off, it would set up an intriguing Hernandez-Kershaw matchup Sunday when the Mariners play the Dodgers. But with the teams set to play April 13-15, McClendon said Hernandez will instead throw against minor leaguers Sunday.
Rosario showed the power the Rockies would like to keep in the lineup somehow despite signing Nick Hundley to be the team’s new starting catcher. Rosario, who was the DH, has caught some and also played first in a busy spring.
”They’re giving me an opportunity,” Rosario said.
Rosario had only played first during exhibition games in his native Dominican Republic.
”Everybody knows I don’t have that kind of experience,” Rosario said. ”But I’m not thinking negative.”
The teams meet again Wednesday in Peoria with RHPs Erasmo Ramirez (Seattle) and Christian Bergman (Colorado) starting.