Felix set for early spring debut vs. White Sox

Felix set for early spring debut vs. White Sox

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez normally gears up his Spring Training camps later than most, but things are different this year. And that new approach for the right-hander will be on display on Tuesday when he makes his Cactus League debut against the White Sox (live on Gameday Audio at 12:10 p.m. PT) at Camelback Ranch.

Hernandez has pushed his schedule up in part because of the impending World Baseball Classic, but manager Scott Servais said there is more to his starter's amped up early spring.

"It's important for him for a number of reasons," Servais said of Tuesday's start. "He has taken a different approach this offseason. There has been way more focus early in this camp on his bullpens. And kind of how he's gone about his business has been a lot different this year than last. And for a reason.

"Obviously the [Classic], but I also think he's looking ahead to the season and what he's got to prove. He's been in a great spot all spring, very upbeat, very positive, but taking things a little more serious."

Segura brightens rainy day
Not much went right for the Mariners in a 14-3 rain-shortened loss to the Royals on Monday, but shortstop Jean Segura provided a ray of sunshine in the seven-inning game with a home run, a double and a single in three at-bats.

Segura's two-run homer

"He's got some kind of quick hands," Servais said. "He can handle balls in all parts of the strike zone and from line to line, he really uses the whole field to hit. It was a good day for him."

The 26-year-old Segura led the National League in hits last season for the D-backs and is off to a strong spring with his new club, hitting .800 (4-for-5) with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs in his first two outings.

Always looking for lefties
Lefty relief specialist Marc Rzepczynski had a rough debut with six runs (five earned) on five hits, including a pair of homers, in his one inning of work Monday. He's pretty well assured a spot on the Opening Day roster after signing a two-year, $11 million deal in free agency, but the second southpaw spot remains open and Dillon Overton could be a new name in that mix.

Ariel Miranda seems destined for the second lefty job unless he winds up sticking as a starter. In that scenario, Overton might be an option as a guy who could fill the Mike Montgomery role from last year, a lefty who can throw multiple innings if needed.

"He looks like a starter with a very good changeup, breaking ball and real athletic," Servais said. "But maybe he could slide to the 'pen. [Overton] and probably Miranda are the two that kind of stick out for me in that regard, that could do both. And they're left-handed, so that's even better."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.