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King Felix considered leaving baseball after demotion to Mariners' bullpen

theScore logo theScore 9/12/2018 Michael Bradburn
Felix Hernandez wearing a uniform © Lindsey Wasson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The once unimpeachable King Felix almost abdicated his throne this season.

In early August, the Seattle Mariners made the difficult decision to yank Felix Hernandez from their starting rotation and pitch the former ace out of the bullpen.

Hernandez, who had never made a relief appearance prior to that over his 14-year career, considered taking a leave of absence from the team.

"I was like, 'should I just take my cleats and go home?'" the former Cy Young winner told Scott Miller of Bleacher Report.

Hernandez became so despondent after the demotion that his wife, Sandra, flew from their home in Miami to be with her husband in Houston and raised his spirits over lunch.

The move, which caused clubhouse tension between Hernandez and manager Scott Servais, wound up being short-lived, as staff ace James Paxton was promptly sidelined after taking a comebacker off his throwing arm.

Hernandez relieved Paxton during that evening's game against the Oakland Athletics, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out a pair over 5 2/3 innings. He's made his regular turn in the rotation ever since, spinning one particularly memorable seven-inning gem against the San Diego Padres (four hits, two earned runs, and nine strikeouts).

After making his debut as a 19-year-old in 2005, Hernandez became one of the most dominant starters in baseball, finishing among the top four in American League Cy Young voting in four different seasons, including his 2010 win.

In recent years, though, the six-time All-Star has struggled. Since 2016, Hernandez owns a 4.57 ERA over 391 2/3 innings.

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