<
>

Hernandez leaves game with tightness in pitching arm

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez left
Wednesday night's start against Minnesota with tightness in his
right pitching elbow after he got just one out and allowed his
first two runs of the season.

The Mariners announced the 21-year-old phenom left "for
precautionary reasons" and would be reevaluated tomorrow.

After Hernandez threw a 2-1 pitch to Justin Morneau in the first
inning, he grimaced, turned away from home plate and immediately
signaled to home plate umpire Ed Rapuano to halt the game.
Hernandez then signaled for trainer Rick Griffin to come out of the
Mariners dugout. Manager Mike Hargrove came out, too. After
Hernandez briefly walked around the mound, squatted behind the
pitching rubber and explained his pain to Griffin, Hargrove
summoned long reliever Jake Woods out of the dugout to replace the
pitching star of the young season.

When Hernandez left, a hush fell over the Safeco Field crowd
that had been cheering his first two strikes of the game and then
applauded when Luis Castillo led off the game with a single. It
took into the eighth inning for Boston to get its only hit off
Hernandez in his previous start. On Opening Day, Hernandez allowed
just three hits and struck out 12 in eight scoreless innings of a
win over Oakland.

Hernandez walked slowly off the field and tilted his cap back
from his forehead while he talked to Griffin, who was at his side.
At one point, Hernandez opened the palm of his hand toward the sky
as if to tell Griffin he didn't know what had happened.

The Twins then scored again off Woods, the third run charged to
Hernandez.

Hernandez was charged with two walks -- the second when Woods threw ball four to Morneau -- and threw a wild pitch that bounced in
the opposite batters' box during his one-third of an inning. Only
12 of his 24 pitches were strikes on a chilly night that was the
polar opposite of his first two wondrous starts. His wild pitch
scored Castillo, the first run off Hernandez in 17 1/3 innings this
season.