Updated Feb 28, 2013 - 1:35 pm
Felix Hernandez almost ready for Cactus League action
By Shannon Drayer
Felix Hernandez is one step closer to throwing in a game as he threw to "live" hitters for the first time Thursday morning in Peoria. Four minor leaguers faced Felix for all of 32 pitches. He got his work in and afterwards thanked the group as they left the field.
Ji-Man Choi, James Jones, Mike Dowd and Gaby Guerrero all faced Felix but didn't come up with much. Some contact was made but aside from a ball hit to left that looked like it could have been a single, there didn't appear to be hits.
It is not about that at this point of the spring for Felix, however. He said that this morning upped the intensity a notch from his regular bullpen sessions but he is itching to get into a game. He declared himself almost 100 percent.
"I do what I do, try to get ready, make good pitches today," he said. "They look different but they are going to get better."
The mechanics are what he was most concerned about in his first live session and he said those were where they should be.
"Definitely good arm speed, good pitches. I feel pretty good. Happy about it," he said.
At that point Felix's day was almost over. An interview with Univision awaited him but before he made his way to the cameras he took a good 10 to 15 minutes to sign for and talk to the crowd that was there to see him.
He was as good natured as ever, acknowledging comments like "Remember when you and Joel threw one of these out here and you both had all that hair and were wearing headbands?" with a smile and an "I was just a baby then" and "We can't wait to see you in a game," with "What do you mean? This was a game!"
It was a great scene. Felix said he wouldn't change after he signed the enormous contract and I think if you asked anyone in that crowd today they would confirm he certainly hasn't.
Up next for Felix, another throwing session early next week and then his Cactus League debut, which will most likely come late next week.
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