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Felix stretches out with extra 'pen work

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez threw an efficient three innings in his second start of the spring on Tuesday, dealing with the D-backs so quickly that he went to the bullpen afterward to throw another 15 pitches to build up his work load.

Hernandez allowed one hit and one run -- a solo homer by veteran designated hitter Eric Hinske -- in a 38-pitch outing in Seattle's 5-4 loss.

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Other than the long ball, which Hernandez said came on a sinker that he left up in the zone, the D-backs had just one baserunner in the first three innings on a two-out walk in the second. So that was another reason the Mariners ace went to the 'pen for some extra duty.

"I needed to work more from the stretch," said Hernandez.

But pitching coach Carl Willis also wants the 26-year-old to begin stretching out his own performances, with just three more starts before Opening Day on April 1 in Oakland.

"Next time I'm supposed to throw 65 pitches or something like that," Hernandez said. "Carl told me I'd only thrown 35 or so, and they wanted me to throw more."

"He was strong, he used all of his pitches," said manager Eric Wedge. "He looked great out there today."

Hernandez was serenaded throughout his three innings by a hearty group of about 40 yellow-shirted fans in a mini-King's Court down the left-field line. It wasn't quite like his Safeco Field support group, but the "K-card" waving section got Hernandez's attention.

"That was pretty nice," he said with a grin. "Those guys are unbelievable, huh? Awesome."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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