The Seattle Mariners have King Felix. The Marlins will be thrilled if they wind up with a King Henderson.
Marlins fans know Henderson Alvarez as the lone major league-ready starter Miami got in the deal that sent All-Star pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason.
Alvarez set a personal, lofty benchmark as a young pitcher growing up in Venezuela.
“I admired Felix Hernandez when I was young,’’ he said, referring to the Seattle Mariners ace and fellow Venezuela native known as King Felix, the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner. “I wanted to be like him.’’
Alvarez, 22, has much to prove, but he showed lots of promise Sunday in his debut for the Marlins. He struck out two batters and allowed one hit in two innings in the Marlins’ 2-2, 10-inning tie against the Washington Nationals.
“All my pitches fell in the strike zone,’’ he said through a translator after throwing 19 of his 22 pitches for strikes.
“My plan was to go out on the field and get my pitches in the zone and have the batters swing.’’
Marlins manager Mike Redmond was impressed by Alvarez’s poise.
“Sometimes it’s a challenge in your first outing, you’re a little bit amped up, a little nervous, but I thought for a young guy he was completely under control out there,’’ Redmond said. “Obviously the numbers spoke for themselves with the amount of strikes he threw.’’
Alvarez will be with the Marlins for one more start — Friday against Minnesota — before joining Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
“He’s going to be a guy who’s leaving us, so we’ll try to build him up and (get him) ready to go before he takes off,’’ Redmond said.
While Johnson and Buehrle will slot into the top of Toronto’s rotation, Alvarez figures to get the fourth or fifth spot in Miami’s rotation behind Ricky Nolasco, Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Turner.