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When It Clicked: Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez was 19 when he broke into the major leagues -- to stay -- and 21 when he one-hit the Red Sox in a game that was supposed to be all about Daisuke Matsuzaka's Fenway Park debut. Still, when we asked Hernandez to tell us when it clicked, we knew full well the correct answer (or at least the one that would be offered by outside observers) was, "It still hasn't."

Still only 23, Hernandez already has 45 wins and nearly 700 strikeouts, but the legions of supporters of "King Felix" are still waiting for that truly dominant season -- the 18-win, 200-strikeout, 2-something ERA tour de force. Perhaps this will be the year.

"For me, it was learning to do my everyday work, getting in the weight room, learning to prepare yourself. That's what has made me the pitcher I am. It's just maturity. And for me, learning to control my emotions -- that's the biggest thing.

"First, when I came up to the big leagues, my emotions were a big part. Everybody said I didn't know how to control my emotions. And now, I still get emotional, but I'm a lot more calm and focused on the mound. Nobody told me how to do it. I just realized it myself.

"There is a big difference between 2005 and today. I used to be a thrower, not a pitcher. I would just go out there and throw. Now I control the [strike] zone. And like I said, now I'm a pitcher."

By Dave Sheinin  |  June 12, 2009; 8:20 AM ET
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