No pressure

Felix Hernandez (’03) pitched a simulated game for the Mariners yesterday.

Hernandez threw a 33-pitch simulated game Thursday before the Mariners’ 6-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox, and pronounced himself ready to pitch in Cactus League games early next week.

Hernandez has been eased into his workload by the team the last two spring trainings in a bid to preserve an arm that threw an American League-best 249-2/3 innings last season and more than 200 in each of his past three campaigns.

“I was throwing strikes,” Hernandez said, adding that he could tell his stuff is ready. “The breaking ball was good. Change-up was all right. Sometimes it cut. Sometimes it dropped down. Everything looked good.”

He also had a visitor which gave me the idea for the title of this post:

Throwing to live hitters was the second most memorable thing that happened to the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Thursday. It took a back seat to meeting a guy who hasn’t pitched in a couple of years.

That would be retired former Mariners ace Randy Johnson, who dropped by the Peoria Sports Complex and had a chat with Hernandez.

“He told me I need to win four more Cy Youngs,” Hernandez said. “And he said, ‘You need 4,000 more strikeouts just to catch me.’ “

Hernandez’s reply: “I’ll be there.”

King Felix!

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