Jessica Mendoza spoke with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Saturday, leading up to his start against the Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball, and sent this along:
When I asked Felix Hernandez what he remembers most about pitching in the majors at 19 years old, his response was simple but telling: "Ninety eight." And then a huge grin came across his face as he could remember a very different pitcher, who could hit 98 mph with a flaming fastball back in 2005. "Man, that was fun. ... All I did was throw."
Felix, now 30, looks back on 12 seasons of big league baseball. He sees pitchers, like 19 year old Julio Urias of the Dodgers, get called up and remembers what it was like to "just throw." As fun as that was for him, learning to really pitch was what has made Felix one of the most feared pitchers in all of baseball. And he is rarely feared for his fastball, which has declined dramatically over those 12 seasons, instead more because of a uniquely devastating changeup he calls his favorite pitch.