Seattle Mariners

Illness knocks Mariners’ Hernandez out of scheduled start

Hisashi Iwakuma was pressed into duty as Friday’s starting pitcher when an illness sidelined Felix Hernandez.
Hisashi Iwakuma was pressed into duty as Friday’s starting pitcher when an illness sidelined Felix Hernandez. AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The call came to Mariners manager Scott Servais around noon Friday. Right-hander Felix Hernandez was sick, and the recommendation from the training staff was that he be scratched from his scheduled start.

"He didn’t sleep at all (Thursday) night," Servais said. "It’s the flu or some kind of cold. Whatever. He did come in and got some medicine and went back to the hotel. I talked to him for just a minute.

"I think, hopefully, he’s going to be OK for (Saturday)."

With Hernandez unavailable, Servais immediately contracted right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma who, because of Monday’s open date, could start Friday on his normal rest.

Servais said Iwakuma’s response was: "`I’m ready to go. I’ll take the ball.’ That’s exactly the answer I was hoping he’d give. I didn’t have a lot of other options."

If Hernandez is unavailable to start Saturday, Servais indicated he would likely turn to former starter Mike Montgomery — unless Montgomery was needed in Friday’s game.

"Win the game tonight," Servais said. "Today’s win means a lot in the big leagues."

If Hernandez and Montgomery are unavailable, the Mariners could make an emergency call to Triple-A Tacoma, which has right-hander Joe Wieland lined up for a Saturday start vs. Sacramento at Cheney Stadium.

"I think we’ll know right around noon-ish (Saturday)," Servais said, "if (Hernandez) is good to go. We’ll check on him (late Friday)."

Scratching Hernandez delayed, for at least one day, a notable personal milestone. He is currently tied with Randy Johnson as the franchise’s career strikeout leader with 2,162.

FAMILIARITY BREEDS…WHAT?

Catcher Chris Iannetta spent the previous four seasons with the Angels, but he dismissed the suggestion that his personal experience provides a notable edge in attacking their weaknesses.

"There’s so much knowledge out there, there’s so much information," he said, "that everyone is on a level playing field. Even when I’m with them all of the time, guys change. They’re hot. They’re cold.

"Myself as a hitter, there are times when I’m handling pitches that, a week later, I might not be handling. Everyone is evolving. Everyone is changing. So it’s never the same.

"There are too many variables involved to really say, `Here’s the formula, go out and execute it.’ It works in a vacuum, but it doesn’t necessarily work throughout the course of a season or in a game."

Iannetta is sure of one thing, though: The only good way to pitch to Angels center fielder Mike Trout is not to pitch to him.

"There are not a lot of holes there," he said. "He’s the best player in the game for a reason. He’s going to get his hits. You’ve just got to limit the damage and limit his opportunities to do those things."

FROM THE OTHER SIDE

Iannetta and Servais each acknowledged it felt strange to come into Angel Stadium and head to the visitors’ clubhouse.

"Lot of memories, a lot of good memories," said Servais, who spent the last four years as the Angels’ assistant general manager for scouting and player development.

"Spent a lot of time here. It was kind of surreal walking to the ballpark and coming into this clubhouse. Change, it happens in the game. It’s a great opportunity for me (with the Mariners)."

Like Servais, Iannetta said he enjoyed his four years with the Angels.

"It’s a great group of guys," he said. "My teammates were awesome that I got a chance to play with. It was a great time. The fans were good to me.

"It’s definitely a different feeling being on this side of this stadium, but we’re all professional. We’re all going to go through it except for a select few throughout the course of their careers."

Even so, Iannetta insisted this series is like any other series.

"You go through the scouting-report process," he said. "You look at the scouting reports on their hitters. You look at (the scouting reports) on their pitchers. Even though you know a lot of the guys, you still look at the reports and digest that.

"You compare that with what you know and treat it like a regular game once it starts."

TIME CHANGE

The Mariners announced a time change for their April 30 game against Kansas City at Safeco Field. It will now start one hour later at 7:10 p.m. instead of 6:10 p.m.

Club officials cited several factors, including the closing of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the large crowd anticipated for the Sounders’ soccer game at 1 p.m. at adjacent CenturyLink Field.

The Mariners are also anticipating a crowd of 40,000 for their game against the Royals.

"The streets and sidewalks will be crowded," club president Kevin Mather said. "Soccer fans will need to disperse, parking spaces need to be opened up and a number of streets and lanes will have to reverse from outgoing to incoming before our fans can reach the stadium district.

"We thought it best to give our fans another hour to arrive and let the area open up a little, rather than forcing our fans into a gridlock situation. This time change will assist the police and traffic control officers."

EARTH DAY

Friday was Earth Day, and the Mariners want you to know:

***They have increased the recycling rate for Safeco Field from 13 percent in 2006 to almost 87 percent in 2015. That 87 percent diverts almost three million pounds of recyclable material from the waste stream.

***Safeco Field has been recycling compostables since 2007, resulting in the diversion of 9.4 million pounds of food and yard waste from the landfill.

***Safeco Field has the lowest energy intensity — a measure of a facility’s energy efficiency — of any major-league ballpark. That stems in part from the decision to install LED lights to illuminate the playing field.

With all that, are you surprised the Mariners have been honored by each year by Major League Baseball since 2010 as American League recycling champions? The Mariners own green.

The Mariners are also, apparently, encouraging fans attending Tuesday’s game against Houston to leave early. The first 5,000 who exit the park will get a 9-quart bag of official Safeco Field soil, courtesy of Cedar Grove Compost.

MINOR DETAILS

Hi-A Bakersfield shortstop Drew Jackson is holding his own at the plate after making a two-step jump from Short-A Everett — batting .302 through 14 games as a follow-up to winning the Northwest League batting crown with a .358 average.

Stealing bases is another matter.

Jackson, 22, was thrown out stealing just four times last season in 51 attempts but has already been nabbed five times this season in just seven attempts.

A fifth-round pick in last year’s draft, Jackson entered the season ranked No. 3 on the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.

LOOKING BACK

It was two years ago Saturday — April 23, 2014 — the Kyle Seager hit a three-run walk-off homer that enabled the Mariners to snap an eight-game skid with a 5-3 victory over Houston at Safeco Field.

It was Seager’s second homer of the game. He also hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning. The game-winner came against former Mariners first-round pick Josh Fields.

SHORT HOPS

The Mariners carried a 7-8 record into Friday’s series opener against the Angels. Seven different pitchers had one victory…Robinson Cano had four RBIs in Thursday’s 10-7 victory at Cleveland, which leaves him just three short of reaching 1,000 for his career…Cano also led the Mariners, prior to Friday, with eight two-out RBIs. Nobody else had more than four.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Angels continue their three-game weekend series at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at Angel Stadium. The Mariners hope to start right-hander Felix Hernandez (1-1 with a 1.00 ERA). Los Angeles lists lefty Hector Santiago (1-0, 2.61) as its starter.

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN. 

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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