SPOKANE, WA - The Spokane Indians had the unique and challenging experience of facing a former Cy Young winner when Felix Hernandez made a rehab start for the AquaSox on July 10, 2016 in Everett. Despite the overwhelming odds and a sellout crowd at Everett Memorial Stadium cheering for a
SPOKANE, WA - The Spokane Indians had the unique and challenging experience of facing a former Cy Young winner when Felix Hernandez made a rehab start for the AquaSox on July 10, 2016 in Everett. Despite the overwhelming odds and a sellout crowd at Everett Memorial Stadium cheering for a strikeout every at-bat, Spokane's hitters were more than up to the challenge, collecting six hits and scoring three runs against King Felix in just 3 2/3 innings. Although the AquaSox would eventually win the game 8-7, Spokane hitters - and hitting coach Kenny Hook - had to be thrilled with their performance against one of MLB's best pitchers.
Players, coaches, and broadcasters from that game recently shared their thoughts on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity:
*Preston Scott *(1 for 2 - strikeout and single): "It was a great opportunity to face one of the best pitchers in the world over the last decade. I know it was a rehab start, but I could see some of the things that allowed him to have so much success. I enjoyed the challenge."
Darius Day (1 for 2 - strikeout, walk, and a triple): "Great test to be able to compete with one of the game's best. Even better feeling to have been able to put a good swing on a ball."
Reid Anderson (starting pitcher for Spokane): "It was definitely a cool experience going against a big name professional like Felix. Luckily I wasn't the one who had to hit against him and my teammates did a great job at the plate, but mainly I enjoyed watching how he attacked batters. It's a good reminder that you don't have to throw 100 mph to make it to the big leagues as long as you can located your pitches can keep hitters off balance. It will be an experience I never forget."
Chad Smith (0 for 2 - strikeout and flyout): "It was a great experience to play such a tough competitor and get a measure on how much work I have to put in to become a consistent big league hitter."
Mike Boyle (Indians Broadcaster): "It was definitely a different atmosphere from a typical game in Everett. People were lining up three hours before the game to get in. Every move Felix made was greeted by loud cheers. When he departed - and I've never seen this before - fans just got up and left the ballpark."
Seth Spivey (0 for 1 - reached on error and walked): "Anytime you get a chance to face a guy like that you get a little excited. His nickname is "King Felix" for a reason. The guy has got it done on the highest stage for 11 years and counting now. Facing a Cy Young award winner has been probably my most cherished moment in professional baseball."
*Kenny Hook *(hitting coach): "It was important to just focus on what we could control facing Felix, getting ready on time for the fastball and trying to recognize and adjust to anything else - trusting our eyes and using our hands. Obviously the split changeup is an unhittable pitch, so you try to see the ball up in the zone a little more, even though he doesn't miss up. Most important was to stick to our plan and treat it just like any other at-bat. Have a plan and approach and go execute it, and for the most part our guys did just that. I was very impressed with how our hitters competed."
Xavier Turner (2 for 2 - two singles): "It was an unbelievable experience to face a pitcher of his caliber. Even though it was just a rehab start it gives me confidence in myself to know that I can compete against a big leaguer with unreal stuff."
Jared Goedert (Assistant Coach): "Our second time through the lineup I thought we did a good job of sticking to our plain and approach and note letting the guy on the mount change what we do well. We stung together good at-bats and were able to get Felix out of there before four complete innings of work. I think it will be valuable for our guys going forward to have faced someone with that kind of resume and stuff to realize that it's still baseball and he still need to throw it across the plate. It was a good experience for our guys."
Blaine Prescott (1 for 2 - flyout and a single): "It was a really cool experience to face him. It was awesome going up there facing a pitcher of such high caliber. I was a little anxious to get in there and see what it was like facing a big leaguer. It was good to get a little glimpse of what pitching at the next levels will look like. All that aside, going up to the plate we had to treat him just like any other pitcher. Just had to stick to our normal approach and it seemed to work out pretty well for us."
*Tim Hulett *(Manager): "We had everything to gain and nothing to lose, because nothing's expected. You've got a guy who's one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's out there getting his work in. Our guys are playing their hearts out."
*Felix Hernandez *(The King): "I wasn't sharp enough. I had mechanical problems. I didn't feel comfortable. But that's OK. My leg felt fine. That's the big thing. I should have thrown four innings, zeroes. I was a little disappointed."
*Tim Hulett and Felix Hernandez quotes via Seattle Times*