By John Hickey
Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at 9:41 am in 2013 spring training.
PHOENIX – It came as good news to A’s catcher John Jaso to learn that Felix Hernandez was able to get his wish and stay in Seattle, signing a seven-year, $175-million contract extension with the Mariners late Wednesday afternoon.
“That was good to see; good for Felix,’’ Jaso said in the A’s spring training clubhouse Thursday morning. “I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more than Felix. He’s earned it.’’
Jaso has a special tie to Hernandez. He was behind the plate in August when Hernandez threw the first perfect game in Mariner history.
“I had been on the wrong sides of some perfect games, but being behind the plate for that one was amazing,’’ Jaso said. “As much fun as it must have been to watch, it was much more fun to catch.
“He had everything going. The Rays have a pretty good lineup, but they were swinging and missing by three feet. I’d never seen anything so dominant. Big league hitters don’t miss the ball by that much.’’
Jaso said that one thing the seven-year deal underscored was how much Hernandez wanted to stay with the Mariners, the club that signed him out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old.
“The thing I feel best about is that Felix wanted to stay in Seattle and now he gets that chance,’’ Jaso said. “I’ve caught him, but now I’ve got to face him, so there’s that.’’
Jaso said he ranked Hernandez among the best three pitchers in the game, all in the American League – Justin Verlander in Detroit and David Price in Tampa being the other two.
Asked if Hernandez was worthy of the biggest contract ever awarded a pitcher, Jaso nodded.
“I’ve never been anywhere where having a guy pitch means an extra 10,000 people in the stands,’’ he said. “Felix does that.’’