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A's start 2013 against familiar opponent

  • Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez throws during a baseball spring training workout Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, in peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By JANIE McCAULEY

ASSOCIATED PRESS

OAKLAND — His usual carefree self, Felix Hernandez danced in the visitors clubhouse to his techno "house music" Sunday.

It's fitting that Hernandez will make his season debut and first outing since landing a $175 million, seven-year contract against the Oakland Athletics. The Seattle ace always faces them to start, or so it seems to the A's.

"A lot," Hernandez said with a smile. "I've faced the A's a lot."

Three times last season, in fact — first in the opening game in Tokyo, again in Seattle's 2012 Safeco Field debut, then once more back in Oakland for the A's home opener. The Mariners won the first two.

That's quite the fill of King Felix. The AL West champion A's will see Hernandez again tonight to open the season at the Oakland Coliseum, with the pitcher fresh off the new contract from February that briefly made him baseball's highest-paid pitcher until Detroit's Justin Verlander topped him Friday.

"We're used to it," A's third baseman Josh Donaldson said, chuckling. "If there's a team that's used to facing Felix, it's us."

Hernandez, who turns 27 on April 8, even opted to sit out the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela to focus on this season. He went 13-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 33 starts last season, two years after capturing the AL Cy Young award.

"I don't care how many times you've done it. Starting on opening day never gets old," Hernandez said. "It's an honor, because there's so much anticipation leading up to that game. It's an exciting time and a fun time to be on the mound. That's especially true on the road against a division rival, when you know the crowd will be into it."


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