Everybody watches when the King is throwing

WatchingFelix.JPGYup, everybody pays attention when Felix Hernandez takes the mound, as he did for the first time this spring on Thursday with some almost-live batting practice.

Among the most attentive Thursday were the guys pictured above — Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan and Chone Figgins — since they were waiting their turns to get in the batter’s box.

But as good as Felix looked — and he looked as sharp as you’d possibly expect at this juncture — it was impossible to get a true read since batters were instructed to only track his pitches with their eyes and not swing away on this first outing.

You can read my full story on Felix’s thoughts about his first step back on the mound since last season, as well as his upcoming schedule by clicking here. He told me the plans call for him to throw an actual live batting practice session Saturday.

Here’s a shot I got of him throwing today.

FelixBP.JPGTomorrow brings the intrasquad game at 1 p.m. (MT). It’ll be five innings on Field 1 at the Mariners facility and Eric Wedge said he’s going to try to get all his position players at least one at-bat and an inning or two of work.

Michael Pineda and Blake Beavan are the starting pitchers, which doesn’t mean a whole lot, but will be fun to see two of the big 22-year-old hosses in camp. We’ve talked a lot about Pineda, but I wrote this story today on Beavan, one of the players obtained in the Cliff Lee deal.

Interesting kid who throws a lot harder than I’d been led to believe, with excellent command. Could turn into a nice rotation piece down the road.

The big news today was Franklin Gutierrez’s absence as he flew back to Seattle to have his stomach problems checked out. Don’t expect that to be a huge issue, more of a precaution at this point, but definitely something they want to clear up after he lost weight during last season and struggled in the second half because he wasn’t able to eat well.

We should learn more about that tomorrow when Gutierrez is expected to return. You can get the news on that on Mariners.com and here on my blog, or follow me on Twitter at @GregJohnsMLB.

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