Remember all that talk about a right elbow issue potentially derailing the Mariners’ new seven-year, $175 million contract extension with staff ace Felix Hernandez? Don’t feel too bad if not because it’s a distant memory for the two main parties involved.
According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told reporters on Wednesday that Felix got a “clean bill of health” from Mariners doctors during his pre-signing physical. “Our doctors were very satisfied,” said Jack Z.
So the elbow thing was either extremely minor or a negotiating tactic. Whatever the case, the M’s have finalized the record extension and will hand the ball to “King Felix” on Opening Day against the A’s.
The 26-year-old righty from Venezuela is now the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.