Felix Hernandez Seattle MarinersAfter Felix Hernandez passed his physical tests and threw some bullpen sessions, the Seattle Mariners announced the date for his Spring training debut.

As reported by the Seattle Times’ beat writer Ryan Divish on his Twitter account, the “King” will take the mound on February 28, when the M’s face the Chicago White Sox. That will be the first of two outings that the Venezuelan will have prior to his debut against Puerto Rico on March 9, at the World Baseball Classic.

As is usual in spring training, Hernandez is expected to pitch for just one inning and to have his pitch count monitored.

After his first two bullpen sessions, Hernandez received plenty of praise from teammates and the Mariners training staff. The Venezuelan, who will pitch on opening day for Seattle, arrived at training camp in excellent physical condition after he hired “Iron” Glenn Freeman a personal trainer that helped him gain eight kilos of muscle.

Hernandez hired the trainer as he was looking to get in optimum physical condition, recover his All Star form and avoid the kind of injuries that he suffered last season. The team’s training staff hopes the extra muscle allow him to pitch with more speed and for more innings.

The benefits of his new regime have allowed Hernandez to get in shape quicker and be in pitching form sooner. In previous years “the King” needed several days to condition his body and throw his first bullpen session, but this year he took the mound from day one.

The 31-year-old is looking to leave a disappointing 2016 season behind and prove his critics wrong. Freeman, who has previously worked with fellow Mariners Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz , was confident enough of Hernandez’s offseason work to boldly predict that his client will be a comeback player of the year candidate and compete for  the Cy Young award.


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