PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez threw his second live batting practice session on Sunday, effectively removing the only obstacle remaining before he pitches in a Spring Training game. Hernandez, who threw 39 pitches on Sunday, will make his spring debut Thursday.
Hernandez was able to throw all of his pitches on Sunday, and he even spent some time throwing from the stretch. Most of the balls hit were harmless choppers through third base or the infield, but the highlight of the session was a hard liner hit to center field by prospect Gabriel Guerrero.
"It was fine," said Hernandez of his final practice round. "It was different because I had to sit down and come back to throw one more inning. But I felt the same. I feel pretty good."
Hernandez said that his changeup felt good and that his slider was right where he wants to be, and prospect Joe DeCarlo said that his fastball is every bit as good as he expected. DeCarlo, a former second-round draftee, said he was thrilled with the opportunity to stand in the batter's box.
"I'm going to tell all my buddies back home. And my family. I'll remember it for the rest of my career," he said of facing Hernandez. "I was excited. You don't get to do that very often. It's a good experience. I looked forward to that from the moment I heard I was coming in today. It was fun."
Seattle catcher Kelly Shoppach caught for Hernandez during the session, and he said it was a fairly typical performance for a simulated game. Hernandez is still a little inconsistent hitting his spots, said Shoppach, but he's right where he needs to be at this early stage of the spring.
"He's very special because he can throw any of his pitches for strikes," he said. "That often keeps him out of a pattern and keeps hitters off-balance. For me, it gives me an opportunity to be very creative with game-calling, knowing he can do anything. Anything I put down, he can execute it."