PEORIA, Ariz. -- A pitcher-catcher tandem that produced more wins last season than any other Mariners battery had its final tuneup on Wednesday morning, and both pronounced themselves ready for the regular-season opener. "I am ready for Opening Night," said right-hander Felix Hernandez after pitching the equivalent of six innings in an intrasquad game at the Peoria Sports Complex. "I feel good." Manager Don Wakamatsu "officially" named Hernandez as the starting pitcher for Monday night's season opener against the Athletics in Oakland. Wakamatsu also said that Rob Johnson, who was Hernandez's regular catcher during most of the 2009 season, would start behind the plate.More
"I am ready to go, I can tell you that," Johnson said, "and from what [Felix] did today, he's ready to go, too. It's a good combo -- both of us ready to go." The only run Hernandez surrendered in the makeshift game was on a solo home run to Minor League outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, the first batter he faced. "I don't know what happened," Hernandez smiled. "I threw three fastballs in a row. [The third one] was supposed to be away, but it cut a little bit and he put a good swing on it." Otherwise, Hernandez was in complete control during his final spring fling. "He looked awesome," said Johnson, who was the catcher when Hernandez compiled a 15-2 record and 1.98 ERA from May 24 to the end of the season. "His fastball was doing a lot of the same stuff it was doing last year." Johnson, brought along slowly this spring after undergoing surgery on both hips and his left wrist, has shared catching duties with Adam Moore and it had been awhile since he caught Felix. "The last time I caught him, his fastball wasn't moving the way it did today," Johnson said. "He was a little up with his changeup, but he also threw some that were down and really, really good."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less