Mariners celebrate 'Larry Bernandez'

Mariners celebrate 'Larry Bernandez'

SEATTLE -- An hour before first pitch on Saturday, Felix Hernandez was nowhere to be seen in the Mariners' clubhouse.

That's because he was busy being Larry Bernandez.

Saturday's game against Chicago at Safeco Field was "Larry Bernandez Bobblehead Night," in honor of Hernandez's alter-ego that was born from a commercial filmed during Spring Training.

In honor of the special night, Hernandez slapped on a Bernandez jersey, a black mullet wig and long sideburns before heading down to the concourse to hand out some of his very own bobbleheads to the some of the first 20,000 fans attending the game.

The fun didn't stop there for Bernandez. He also came out of the dugout and threw out Saturday's ceremonial first pitch.

"It's one of those things where, obviously, it was done to get the fans excited. I think they've done that and more," said fellow starting pitcher Jason Vargas. "We were out in the outfield shagging today and everybody is yelling at Felix, 'Hey, where's Larry? Where's Jerry?

"It gives them something to look forward to coming to the field and getting excited for the game."

The media had some fun pregame asking manager Eric Wedge about his take on Larry Bernandez. Wedge was the co-star in the famous commercial that features Felix wanting to pitch more, and thus dressing up as Bernandez.

"I remember we did that commercial in Spring Training," Wedge recalled. "I'm not the big commercial type -- in fact I remember at the end, I said, 'This is the 10th take and this is the last take. You're going to pick one of them, so let's make it a good one.'

"I was worried about how it came off. That's not my area. But I know they've been doing commercials here for a lot of years and I've done commercials before, but they really went about it a great way."

Although he wasn't super excited to appear in what would become one of the Mariners' most successful marketing stunts, Wedge says he's happy with whatever promotes the team.

"There are so many reasons why I came here to Seattle and one of the things I love about it is that we're so far removed from Major League clubs and the fan base is so widespread," Wedge said. "As we continue to get better and figure this out, it's going to be real exciting for these fans. And for Felix to lead the way, it's the way it should be."

Will Larry ever appear on the bench during an actual game?

"I wouldn't put it past him," Wedge said with a laugh. "You're killing me right now, because you're putting these thoughts in his head. ... I've had players do a little bit crazier things than that before, so it wouldn't surprise me."