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Hernandez battles bat

By Associated Press

PEORIA, Ariz. – Felix Hernandez’s best move in his spring debut was avoiding a broken bat.

Seattle’s ace dodged a flying piece of wood on a groundout by Brian Giles to end a quick first inning. Then Hernandez allowed four hits, including a two-run homer by Henry Blanco, in the second during the Mariners’ 4-4 exhibition tie with the San Diego Padres in 10 innings Thursday.

The 23-year-old Hernandez wasn’t ruffled by the shaky outing, his only real tuneup before he starts the opener of the World Baseball Classic for his native Venezuela against Italy on March 7 in Toronto.

“Just throwing fastballs. It worked – not in the second inning – but it worked,” he said.

The piece of sheared wood off Giles’ bat that had him putting both arms over his head as it sailed past scared Hernandez.

“I didn’t see the bat,” he said.

He said he’s never been hit by a bat while on the mound.

Not that many would have witnessed such a mishap. The announced attendance was 2,402.

“Wasn’t a big one, was it?” said Jarrod Washburn, who pitched a scoreless inning behind Hernandez.

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