Felix Hernandez has at least 31 reasons for reporting to spring training with the Baltimore Orioles.
Even with no guarantee of a roster spot or a rotation turn in Baltimore, the 34-year-old Hernandez has high aspirations for the season ahead and beyond.
“The Hall of Fame,” Hernandez said Thursday explaining his presence with the team. “I think I have a shot, but I have a few numbers that need to tick up. If I get to those goals, I think I have a good shot at the Hall of Fame.”
Hernandez projects he will need to boost his career wins total from 169 to 200 and hit 3,000 career strikeouts. He currently has 2,524 Ks and hasn’t pitched in a major league game in 17 months.
The Orioles provided Hernandez a chance to pitch after his attempt to latch on with the Atlanta Braves in 2020 came up short due to his personal decision to opt out of the season for COVID-19 concerns.
Baltimore is well-aware of Hernandez finding life difficult in his final three seasons with the Seattle Mariners. He looked nothing like the dominant ace of the previous decade with an ERA ballooning to 5.42 and 27 losses.
Only ace John Means is guaranteed a spot in the Baltimore rotation this season.
“It’s about the opportunity that I got here,” Hernandez said. “It’s a lot of young guys, and I didn’t play last year at all, and they gave me a chance to come here and compete for a spot in the rotation.”
The one-year, minor-league offer from the Orioles pays Hernandez just $1 million if he makes the final roster. Hernandez is liking his chances if for no other reason than he feels healthy again.
“Those (last few) years in Seattle, I wasn’t healthy, I was going through a lot of injuries and I wasn’t having fun,” Hernandez said. “Right now, I feel really, really good. I’m ready to go.”
–Field Level Media