Outlook: Felix remains one of baseball's best hurlers

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez is enjoying his team's new clubhouse and facilities at the Peoria Sports Complex, the team's Spring Training home, but the Mariners ace is less thrilled about having to find a new house back in the Seattle area this offseason.

Hernandez's 5,100-square foot house in Bellevue, Wash., was heavily damaged in a fire in November, and he and his wife and two children had to move to a rental home while awaiting completion of a new house in the same area.

"The whole house is smoke damaged," Hernandez said Friday before heading out to the second day of pitchers and catchers workouts. "It's all lost. I was building another one, so I'll just sell it. I was going to keep it, but not now."

The five-bedroom, four-bath home was valued at $2.85 million, according to King County public records. Hernandez and his wife, Sandra, were vacationing in Napa, Calif., when they got a call saying there was a fire at their house, with three fire departments responding.

His two children were at home with his mother-in-law and a nanny at the time, but had gone to a shopping mall when the blaze broke out.

How much did Hernandez freak out when he heard about the fire?

"A lot," he said. "We just got on a plane and said, 'Let's get out of here.' Thankfully the kids were OK."

The house, however, remains on the disabled list along with many of the family's belongings.

"They still don't know what's going on," Hernandez said. "It's not fun. It was not a good offseason. But the baseball is good. I'm excited to get going."

Mariners likely to play it safe with injured Iwakuma

Iwakuma may miss start of season with finger injury

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Hisashi Iwakuma told Japanese reporters he figures he needs only three starts under his belt to get himself ready for the regular season, but the Mariners might have other ideas as they vow to be careful with their standout right-hander after he was diagnosed with a strained tendon in his middle right finger this week.

Iwakuma will be reevaluated in early March and isn't expected to begin throwing for several weeks after that, which figures to push his return past Opening Day on March 31 even in the most optimistic scenario.

"The doctors have told me he's out 4-6 weeks, then he's going to have to throw and get himself ready," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's too valuable to rush back. We have to make sure he's at full strength when he does come back."

McClendon said Iwakuma, who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last year after going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA, will need to be able to throw six or seven innings and 85-95 pitches before he's ready for a regular-season game.

Building up to those levels usually takes pitchers five or six starts over the course of Spring Training, so Iwakuma's idea of getting ready in just three starts likely won't gain much traction with McClendon and new pitching coach Rick Waits.

"It would make me real happy if that was the case, but we'll see," McClendon said. "We'll do right by Iwakuma, that's for sure."

The Mariners were looking for another veteran starter even before Iwakuma's injury, so they could be in the market for another addition. Veterans Scott Baker and Randy Wolf have been given non-roster invites as they come off Tommy John surgeries, and former Angels starter Matt Palmer is in the mix as well.

Youngsters James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer and Erasmo Ramirez will also compete for starting jobs, and McClendon said he wants eight or nine pitchers getting stretched out through camp to fill the final five-man rotation.

"I'm always looking for eight or nine starters," he said. "Whether they're out there or Jack [Zduriencik] is going to acquire somebody else, I don't know. But I'm always looking. You always want to get better and you always want to have a surplus."

McClendon said Zach Miner, another non-roster veteran, has the ability to start and be a "swing-man" type pitcher, but will be looked at more as a reliever at this point.

Cano expected in camp after return from Dominican

Cano entertains fans and fields questions at FanFest

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Although position players aren't scheduled to report until Monday and take the field for the first full-squad workout Tuesday, only a handful of Mariners weren't already in camp by Friday, including new star second baseman Robinson Cano.

Cano's absence is no surprise, however, as he was in the Dominican Republic on Thursday to help the Mariners open their new baseball academy in his homeland and isn't expected to arrive in Arizona until this weekend.

Outfielder Abraham Almonte was also in the Dominican, where he's been working out at the club's new facility. The only other 40-man players not yet in camp are outfielder Dustin Ackley and infielder Nick Franklin.

Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract in December, is eager to get started with his new club.

"I can't wait," Cano said Thursday after taking batting practice at the Dominican facility. "I'm just counting the days to get back there and have that feeling, get to know my teammates and spend time with the new manager."

That new skipper, Lloyd McClendon, is happy to see so many of his charges in camp working out on their own prior to the official reporting date.

"I think it's great," he said. "It's really amazing. Most of these guys are ready to start playing right now. They're in great shape, they've been going at it hard, they look great. I've been pleased with how they're going about their business."

Worth noting

• Walker, the club's top right-handed prospect, will likely be held back from throwing his first bullpen session until Monday after reporting some soreness in his right arm after overextending himself in some pre-camp throwing sessions, but the Mariners don't believe the issue is serious at all.

"Taijuan is fine," McClendon said. "He had a little soreness. He may be a little behind, but there's nothing pressing with that. He's moving forward and doing everything he needs to do."

• Catcher Jesus Sucre had to come out of a bullpen throwing session with right-hander Mark Rogers after taking an errant fastball off his right ankle Friday, but McClendon called it just the normal "nicks and bruises" that come in camp.

• Catcher Manny Pina arrived at camp Friday and will be on the field as soon as he passes his physical, leaving right-hander Ramon Ramirez as the only pitcher or catcher still having visa issues.