Félix Hernández
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Félix Hernández may have been on his way to a comeback season

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Everyone has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and precautions taken to combat it: stadium workers, grounds crew, fans, coaches, and of course, the players. Minor league players won’t get paid for a while longer. Coaches have no one to coach. Fans have nothing to watch. It’s a tough time for us all.

On the lighter side of things, it is interesting to think what might have been — and, technically, what still could be — for certain players. Félix Hernández is one of those players who stands out to me. A Mariners legend, the soon-to-be 34-year-old has had it rough over the last three years, battling injuries and ineffectiveness. Since the start of the 2017 season, Hernández went 15-27 with a 5.42 ERA and a 260/110 K/BB ratio over 314 innings. He was a shadow of who he used to be: the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner with three other runner-up finishes.

Hernández, who inked a minor league deal with the Braves in January, was looking good in four Grapefruit League appearances before the league suspended operations. Over 13 2/3 innings, the right-hander held the opposition to three runs on 13 hits and five walks with 14 strikeouts. Yes, it’s only spring training and it’s a small sample size, but that’s all we have to go off of right now.

It would have been fun if Hernández was able to stay healthy and pitch effectively once again. He still can, but if what Jon Heyman has been hearing is accurate, we may not be seeing regular season games until late May or June. The comeback attempts for Hernández and others — Baltimore’s Chris Davis comes to mind — will be even tougher.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The players association said Wednesday night it was dismayed by the length of the ban.

“While we understand the concerns raised by the league with respect to a bench-clearing incident during this challenging season, we’re disappointed by the decision,” the union said. “It was an unfair result for Joe Kelly given the cases presented.”

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty that was first reported by Barstool Sports.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.