NORTH PORT, FL. - For all the questions about his health, his career and the chance to mentor young teammates, Félix Hernández has a reminder for you.
"I'm not that old," said Hernández. "I'm 33, I'm not that old."
Fans are forgiven, however, if that's somewhat surprising: Hernández made his MLB debut as a 19-year-old, and enjoyed a decade of dominance. Hernández was a 6-time All-Star with the Seattle Mariners, where he played the rest of his career; he led the American League in earned run average twice; and he won the 2010 American League Cy Young Award.
Now, Hernández is in a very different situation: on a minor league contract with the Braves, hoping to earn one of the final spots in the team's starting rotation.
"He was one of the ones that I watched, because Seattle was on all the time at home [in Canada]," said Braves pitcher Mike Soroka. "You see what he did every year, I don't know how many years he threw close to 240 innings. That's incredible."
Braves pitcher Félix Hernández takes part in a spring training drill on Thursday, February 13th
After those excellent years in Seattle, it's been a different story lately for Hernández. Dealing with injuries, his last two seasons with the Mariners were statistically his worst, including posting a 6.40 ERA last year.
"The last two years, first of all, I wasn't healthy," said Hernández "It wasn't a good year. I forget about it, that's the past."
With newly signed starter Cole Hamels injured and very likely to miss the start of the regular season, Hernández will compete with several of the Braves younger starters to take the ball every fifth day.
"The King" certainly has his confidence.
"I've just got to be healthy, and I can do anything," said Hernández.