Royal decree: King Felix to start Opening Day

Ace '99.99999 percent' sure to lead Mariners for seventh straight season

Royal decree: King Felix to start Opening Day

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In case there was any question, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed the obvious on Sunday. Felix Hernandez is a pretty good bet to be Seattle's Opening Day starter on April 6 against the Angels at Safeco Field.

"You guys got somebody better?" McClendon said with a laugh. "I'd say it's a really good chance -- a 99.99999 percent chance -- that he'll be starting Opening Day. They'd run me out of town if he's not out there. Talk about getting second-guessed? They'd be all over me."

Hernandez has been about the surest thing for the Mariners for many years, particularly on Opening Day. He already holds a club record with for most Opening Day starts (seven), wins (five) and strikeouts (52).

This would be his seventh straight Opening Day start and second straight against the Angels, whom he beat in last year's opener, when he struck out 11 over six innings in a 10-3 win in Anaheim.

Outlook: Hernandez, SP, SEA

Hernandez is 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in his previous seven Opening Day outings. The Angels have already confirmed that right-hander Jered Weaver will be on the mound in the 1:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco Field in what will be Seattle's first time opening the season at home since 2008.

The game is already a virtual sellout, with only scattered single seats available.

Hernandez will make his first Cactus League start on Tuesday against the Rockies at Salt River Fields in a 1:10 p.m. PT game. The 28-year-old ace originally was slated to open on Wednesday, but that debut was moved up a day to set Hernandez up better for his next outing.

If he'd pitched Wednesday, his next scheduled game would have fallen on March 16, which is Seattle's first off-day of the spring and would have meant getting action instead against Minor League hitters. Instead, Hernandez will now pitch his second game of the spring against the Dodgers on March 15 at Peoria.

"He didn't want to pitch on the off-day. Whatever the King wants," McClendon said with a laugh. "And I didn't want to be here on the off-day either."

Greg Johns is a reporter for 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.