The Seattle Mariners may be a franchise in transition, but they know one thing is for certain: Felix Hernandez is the ace of their pitching staff and projects to be a Mariner for the foreseeable future, according to the front office. And while King Felix won't have much help in 2012, he knows it's up to him to step up and be a leader for the younger players on the squad. Bob Baum of the AP has the latest update out of Mariners Spring Training Camp in Arizona.
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - He is the ace on a team that is struggling to find respectability in the tough AL West, and the role suits Felix Hernandez just fine.
"King Felix" says he is "not going anywhere," exactly the position of the Seattle Mariners' front office despite speculation that inevitably surfaces from time to time for a team that finished dead last in its division the past two years.
"I'm very happy with my career right now," Hernandez said before working out Tuesday on a chilly Arizona morning. "I know I'm still young and still can learn something new. I've just got to keep learning and keep doing what I do."
The Mariners appeared to take in the right direction with the acquisition of Jesus Montero, a slugger who projects to play either catcher or DH for the foreseeable future. He may not provide an immediate fix to the problems in Seattle, but it's a start. This will not be an overnight fix.
Seattle's climb to respectability could be a long one but Hernandez insists he will see it through.
"I'm not going anywhere, man," he said. "I'm staying here for a long time."
He, his wife and their two children live most of the year in Seattle, with trips to his native Venezuela for Christmas and New Year's, he said.
"I like the city," Hernandez said. "I love the people up there. I love Seattle."
We can only hope that by the time Felix is done in Seattle that the stay will have been worth his while. For the meantime, all M's fans can hope for is improvement this upcoming season, both from their ace and the rest of the 24 guys on the roster.
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