Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Feliz Hernandez is a Star in the making

Only three games under his belt the 19 year old
native of Valencia,Venezuela has won his first
two starts at Safeco Field and in 16 innings
he has pitched at home has allowed only 1 run and
fanned 17.
There is a buzz in Seattle when this kid pitches
and that is good and for the Venezuelan teen
is “muy divertido” -a lot of fun-.
This kid doesn’t pitch like he is 19, he
throws a 98 mph fastball then he comes
in with an 80-something change up and
“adios hitter” gone !
This is important here. The Mariners finished
last in 2004 but they still had the record
setting season of Ichiro Susuki who finished
with 262 hits a new MLB record. So this season
the Felix Hernandez story brings some excitement
to another lost season and this is good for the
team, the front office, the fans in Seattle.

By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez
SeattleWhen Felix Hernandez pitches at SAFECO Field
there is a buz in the stands, in the City of Seattle,
at each Starbucks in each tavern in many public
places people are already talking about this
19-year old kid from Venezuela.

In another lost season, this is exactly what this
franchise needed. Some excitement for the fans.
In 2004 the team finished last but Ichiro Susuki
was after the record(heestablished of 262 hits
in a season) this year there is nothing of that
sort but the fans can hand their hat everytime
that El Rey Felix pitches(El Rey) is Spanish
for “The King.”

Felix Hernandez is the type of player you can
built a winning franchise around, he has it all,
youth, stuff, confidence and an aura that reminds
me of a young Pedro Martinez. Nothing faces
this kid, he knows he belongs here and he is
here to stay.

This is something special, you can see it with his
body language, with the way he conducts himself.
He was signing autographs prior to a game and
he was smiling at some of the fans, talking a little
in broken English, stuff like this you cannot
teach, he has charisma and great stuff. A combination like this is what makes a real star
in the Major Leagues.

Felix has his own style although he resembles
Freddy Garcia a lot.

After his debut in Comerica Park, Detroit on
in August 4, when he lost to the Tigers but
pitched well (5 inning pitched, 2 runs (1 earned)
and retired 14 of the final 16 he was ready for
his first start at home, Safeco awaited.

On the 9th of August he made his debut here
in Seattle. He pitched for 8 solid innings against
the Twins, fanned 6, allowed just 5 hits and
didn’t walk anybody. He won the game 1-0.
After the game Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said of Felix:
“He has a curveball from hell”.
And that is correct, the amazing thing about
this 19 year old kid is that he doesn’t pitch like
a teenager but like a savy veteran. He throws
a 98 mph fastball and then he comes with an
80-something change-up and “adios hitter”
sit down go back to the bench ! Or with the
“curveball from hell”. He keeps the ball
down in the corners, are you kidding me ?

His next start was at Safeco again on the night
of August 15. He showed up with 8 strong innings
again allowing just 1 run 1 walk and struck out
11 Royals. Felix didn’t mess around, from the
very beginning he set the tempo of the game
and just threw pitches with perfection and great

“Es un placer el recibir un pitcher asi”
(It is a pleasure to catch a pitcher that throws
like this) Said catcher Yorbit Torrealba, also
from Venezuela, Felix catcher during the
game against the Royals.

Since Felix Hernandez came up I have done a
few interviews with the kid, one for Fox Sports
Northwest Television and then translated his
answers. Another one for KOMO radio the
Msriners flagship station.

And the interview for The Seattle Mariners
Spanish Radio Network, all in Spanish,of course
that I have translated here:

-What do you think of Seattle, the city ?
F: “Great I am very excited to be here,this is
really super”.
-Anything in special that has surprised you about
the Big Leagues?
F: “The fans, their reaction, the stadium this is all
big all great”.
-Do you have any favorite players, pitchers?
F: “Freddy Garcia and Pedro Martinez, those are
my favorites”.
-How about your family(you are single)but your
parents ?
F: “They are in Venezuela, very excited about me
making it to the Big Leagues, they have not seen
me yet but they will be in Seattle in September”
-Are you going to pitch for the Cardinals of Lara
again this winter in Venezuela ?
F: “I hope so, I pitched for them last season, I
enjoyed there, it is my country of birth I have
all my family and friends there”.
-Have you had time to see Seattle yet?
F:”Well, a little, I was in Tacoma before so I have
been here in Seattle a few times it is a very
nice city and I like it very much”.
-Which players in the team help you ?
F: “Everybody here has helped me, some of the
Latin players help me of course”
-Are you aware that you look a lot like ex-Mariner
Freddy Garcia?
F: “Yes, everybody tells me that, but I am my own
person, I am not him”.

In previous articles I have written of the future
of the Mariners and specially their very young
Latino players. Felix Hernandez could be the
biggest star of them all. Seattle could have struck
gold with this kid. He could be the great next
pitcher in the Emerald City since Randy Johnson,
he has the stuff and the mental fortitute to
be a great one. Except injury it will be fun to
see Felix develop. When he goes to Peoria in
2006 for Spring Training he still will be 19,
since his next birthday is on April 8.

At least the last 7 weeks or so of this season
the very good fans here will have some fun with
Felix Hernandez, who brings an electricity to
SAFECO Field that was missing. When you have a pitcher that can strike out each batter at anytime
during the game you have the fans standing up
cheering, enjoying the game. When you have
this type of talent you do not need to play
AC/DC music in the stands, it doesn’t matter,
you could play Mantovani, when Felix takes
the mound there is excitement because of him
not because the scoreboard is telling the fans
to stand up and act like robots.

Nothing like watching real talent in the Big Leagues,
as I told Felix right after I met him, almost like
the famous line in Casablanca, but instead of Bogart
telling Louie, it was me telling Felix:
I said:
“Felix, this could be the beginning of a beautiful
relationship,between you and the fans here”
He smiled and said, “gracias.”



1 Anonymous { 08.16.05 at 9:18 pm }

Great Article as always, Amaury!

Felix Hernandez is a PHENOM!
He will soon surpass “El Duque”. He needs to be looked at as “rookie of the year”

I was present at SAFECO field on the 9th of August when Herdandez made his debut in Seattle. Hemandez was throwing “FIREBALLS”. Without fanfare, he recorded 6 Ks and 0 BBs. When he left the game in the 8th inning, the Seattle fans gave him a 5 minute standing ovation. For a team last in the AL west and not much to cheer about, here is a PHENOM to raise your voices loud, stand up and cheer. It will be only a matter of time before this kid pitches a “NO-NO”.

A “diamond in the rough” and “undiscovered treasure”. Herdandez may be the savior of Seattle.
WARNING TO AL HITTERS: WATCH OUT OR YOU WILL BE HAVING A SEAT ON THE BENCH RATHER ABRUPTLY… THIS 19 yrar old is focused on the strike zone and will blow you away with a 90 mph fastball and a “curve ball from HELL”

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