5:25pm: X-rays came back negative, the club announced (h/t Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, via Twitter), so it seems the worst-case scenario has been avoided.
3:27pm: Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez took a comebacker off his right arm during today’s Cactus League contest against the Cubs and exited the game without throwing another pitch. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times has a video of the play in his initial column on the injury. Hernandez immediately drops his glove, does not try to pick up the ball, and leaves the field with head trainer Rob Nodine holding his right arm. Divish further tweets that the Mariners are sending Hernandez back to their facility in Peoria for evaluation. For now, they’re only saying that he was struck on the “upper forearm.”
The Mariners struggled through a dismal 2017 season in terms of rotation health, relying largely on a revolving door of depth pieces and journeymen to get through the year while Hernandez, James Paxton, Yovani Gallardo and a host of others dealt with injury issues. Seattle picked up Mike Leake, Erasmo Ramirez and Marco Gonzales last summer with an eye toward bolstering the 2018 rotation, but the M’s haven’t added an established starter to their ranks all offseason with the exception of re-signing Hisashi Iwakuma. However, Iwakuma is still recovering from shoulder surgery and isn’t expected to be an immediate factor in the rotation. (Christian Bergman and Casey Lawrence re-signed with the Mariners on minor league deals this offseason.)
[Related: Seattle Mariners depth chart]
The free-agent market, of course, still has several notable names in the form of Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. A significant absence for King Felix could, speculatively, push the Mariners to add further depth — even if it’s not one of those top three names. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Ricky Nolasco are among the other unsigned rotation options at this point, while the trade/waiver market continues to feature myriad possibilities.
Hernandez, 32 in April, was limited to 86 2/3 innings last season due to shoulder and biceps injuries. He pitched to a 4.36 ERA (second-highest of his career) with 8.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.77 HR/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in that time.