BY Todd Dybas 06:42AM 05/18/2011

Off the cuff: Felix on Mauer; NCAA coaches win again

Welcome to the debut of “Off the Cuff,” a compilation of news, notes and anecdotes from around the Seattle sports scene.

Felix Hernandez has had his issues with Joe Mauer and Jim Thome of the Twins. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

With so much quantifiable in baseball, it’s easy to discount behind-the-scenes occurrences.

In 2005, former Mariners reliever Arthur Rhodes was pitching for the Cleveland Indians. According to a Sports Illustrated story this week, doctors found a tumor growing on the spine of Rhodes’ two-year-old son.

The left-handed reliever told only his manager, Eric Wedge, and the Cleveland front office. He didn’t want it to get out and they sat on the information for him.

“Out of respect to him and his family we kept it quiet,” Wedge said Monday. “A parent’s child .. there’s nothing in the world that should be respected more than a child, especially one that’s sick. I felt like we did the best job we could to keep that a personal issue with Arthur.”

Rhodes’ son died in 2008 at the age of five. It’s personal topics like this that affect performance but never get beyond the manager’s office. In Rhodes’ case, he had an excellent year in 2005. All the more impressive now.

Wedge said he deals straight on with news of such magnitude.

“Just be respectful,” Wedge said. “It’s a tough spot. It’s emotional. You respect the man, respect the parents. Try to do everything you can to support them.”

Unfriendly to Felix
Having the Twins in town usually means double trouble for Felix Hernandez. (Ba da bum!)

Four MLB players have faced Hernandez more than 10 times in their career and have a .500 or higher average to show for it. Two play for the Twins.

Catcher Joe Mauer (13-for-26) and designated hitter Jim Thome (8-for-16) are career .500 hitters against Hernandez.  Johnny Damon (.563, 9-for-16) and Grady Sizemore (.500, 9-for-18) are on the clobber-Felix list.

Luckily for Hernandez, both weree hurt when the Twins were here. Mauer is off to spring training to rehabilitate “bilateral leg weakness” and Thome has a strained left oblique. Still,  the Twins two runs’ were pathetically enough for a win Tuesday night to beat Hernandez.

The Cy Young winner’s explanation for Mauer and Thome giving him such trouble is simple.

“Throw any pitch in any count, they hit it,” Hernandez said. “Especially Mauer.

“They hit everything.“

Jones plays at UW, after all
Uber recruit Terrence Jones last spring pulled on a Washington lid during his press conference announcing his college decision. Then, he threw it on the floor and danced atop it while putting on Kentucky blue. Or, at least that’s how some Washington fans remember the press conference during which Jones went from a Huskies commit to a Kentucky Wildcat.

Jones,  the great UW recruit that suddenly wasn’t — creating one of the most inane commitment press conferences ever delivered — has made his way to the Washington campus. He was playing pickup there this week. Wonder if he had a full explanation for those around him about his change of mind?

If you root for Washington, play a game: Choose between imagining what last season would have been like with Jones on that team, or nail your left ear to the floor. Hammer is in the bottom drawer. That’s the less painful option.

NCAA, coaches win again
Former Washington guard Elston Turner ended up punished by yet another of the NCAA’s arcane rules.

Turner transferred to Texas A&M after the 2009-10 season. Rules required he sit out last year.

Now it’s spring and Turner, along with the rest of the Aggies, just met their new coach following the departure of Mark Turgeon, who left to fill the vacancy at Maryland. Turner could transfer again, but he would have to sit out another year. His coach, however, is subject to no penalties.

It’s one of the prime inequities in college athletes. Turner departed for what he thought would be a better situation, one sold to him by Turgeon. Yet he has to prove himself to new coach Billy Kennedy, who knows only Turner is a transfer.

Turner is assured of one thing: He’s on a team closer to home (he’s from Missouri City, Texas). The extra minutes he was after to show a more all-around game? Those are far from guaranteed. Especially with a new coach.

And furthermore …
One Mariners player glanced at the television in the clubhouse Monday night and saw a graphic that showed them 3.5 games out of first. He couldn’t believe the deficit was so small. He then went on to lament the road trip and say the club should be well over .500 at this point. … Storm center Ashley Robinson showed up on the runway at Seattle Fashion week. In heels, Robinson is approximately 8 foot 6. … Dustin Ackley has been pounding the ball this month in Tacoma. He’s hitting .377 in May, through Tuesday. The possibility of Ackley’s call-up became a  relentless Twitter rumor Tuesday after some lax “reporting” by a blogger said Ackley may, could, sort of, might be, called up as soon as Wednesday. Or he might not. That’s what someone told him. The reaction to this as fact is yet another verifier that everyone needs to consider the source when consuming “news.”

Follow Todd Dybas on Twitter at @Todd_Dybas.


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