A lot of people who haven't been paying close attention have wondered where Felix Hernandez has been, and why he has yet to get into a Cactus League game. The answer? The Mariners are taking things slowly with him, going at a similar pace as they did a year ago, when Felix didn't make his official ST debut until March 14th. Today, rather than participate in the game against the White Sox, Felix threw a couple innings in a simulated game instead, throwing 33 pitches that left him feeling good. His simulated opponents did not feel so good.
The idea here is that simulated games are a little less stressful and a little more leisurely than exhibition games against real opponents. So there's less strain on a pitcher, allowing him to ease himself into playing shape. The M's aren't only taking this approach with Felix, either; they're doing the same with Jason Vargas, who they'll be monitoring closely after a few bouts of fatigue in 2009 and 2010. Vargas throws tomorrow. And Doug Fister? Eh, whatever, nobody cares.
Interestingly, Chaz Roe also threw in a simulated game today, but I think the idea there is less about easing Roe in and more about keeping him out of the public eye so when he's dumped from the roster nobody's hurt.
Because Felix's sim game went off without a hitch, he's currently scheduled to get into his first game of the ST season early next week. Greg Johns says he'll face the A's on Monday, while Kirby Arnold says he'll face the Giants on Tuesday. Tuesday would keep him on a five-day rotation. Either way, Felix is throwing three innings in an actual game sometime very soon.