Notes: Hernandez on track for season

Notes: Hernandez on track for start of season

PHOENIX -- If one is examining Felix Hernandez's progress towards Opening Day, and being ready to meet the high expectations placed upon him, the runs the Brewers scored on him during Sunday afternoon's game don't mean anything.

Hernandez allowed three runs in the second inning, two of them earned, despite only one ball being hit hard. Prince Fielder hit a leadoff single when he managed to punch one out to center after getting jammed in on his wrists. Johnny Estrada hit a fly-ball double to the opposite field. The Brewers managed a couple of close infield hits after that, and also scored a run on an error.

In the midst of all that, Hernandez struck out the side.

Hernandez also allowed a solo homer to Geoff Jenkins in the fourth, but otherwise looked to be in good form as he gets stretched out for the start of the season. He struck out six in five innings of work and recorded all but one of his outs by strikeout or groundout.

Coming off of his last outing where he threw four scoreless frames against the A's, the stats -- three earned runs in five innings of work -- may make it seem like Sunday was a step backward.

Hernandez didn't think so.

"I felt good, and my mechanics were good," said the pitcher who will legally be able to buy a beer a week after the Opening Day start he is expected to make. "They didn't really hit the ball too hard."

One American League scout behind the plate reported Hernandez, who didn't walk a batter, was throwing an "easy 95 mph" throughout his outing, but struggled a bit locating some first-pitch fastballs.

"I don't like to walk people in Spring Training, so I was just trying to throw strikes all the time, and I just missed a bit with a couple of fastballs on the outside corner," said Hernandez.

Considering that he can still look dominant even when he doesn't have his best command or is locating like he wants to, perhaps those expectations won't be too hard to meet after all.

"The only thing you can worry about is your expectations for yourself," said manager Mike Hargrove, "and Felix is really good about that."

Scary moment: Catcher Kenji Johjima went down after taking a Ben Sheets curveball on the back of the helmet in the second inning Sunday, but after a few anxious moments, he told the training staff that he was all right, trotted to first base and later scored on a sacrifice fly.

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Johjima had some defensive issues that cost Hernandez in the bottom of the frame after being hit, allowing two stolen bases and making a throwing error on a double steal that allowed a run to score.

"He's OK. I think it got him half on the helmet and half on the back of his neck," said Hargrove, who mentioned that Johjima had a little normal Spring Training tenderness in his arm that may have contributed to some poor throws.

New face: Southpaw Brad Thomas made his Spring Training debut in the sixth inning. Signed as a free agent March 1, the 29-year-old has had a varied and interesting career. Signed at age 17 out of Australia by the Dodgers in 1995, he appeared in 11 Major League games with the Twins between 2001 and 2004. His contract was then sold to the Red Sox, but he went through some elbow troubles that kept him from appearing for the eventual World Series champions. He played the last two seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan and was a member of the team that won the Japan Series title last season. He also represented Australia in the 2000 Olympics.

Thomas allowed two hits and a run in his inning of work.

Injury update: Closer J.J. Putz (mild flexor pronator strain) says he "feels great" and is scheduled to throw Tuesday. If there are no further setbacks, Putz is still likely on track to be ready on Opening Day.

Quick hits: The Mariners' projected starting rotation (Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, Jeff Weaver, Miguel Batista and Horacio Ramirez) has been stingy with runs this spring, as they have allowed just a 2.49 ERA in 47 innings of work. ... Willie Bloomquist continued his hot camp, going 1-for-3 with two steals -- including a steal of home on a double steal -- and two runs scored. Bloomquist is batting .439 this spring. "We're really lucky to have him -- he does a little bit of everything," said Hargrove.

Jason Grey is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.