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Video: Emotional Felix Hernandez receives King’s welcome from Mariners staffers

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

A very cool scene played out on Wednesday when several members of the Seattle Mariners front office gathered with team and Safeco Field staffers to surprise and greet Felix Hernandez prior to the press conference officially announcing his new seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

The large group, which was all decked out in King's Court t-shirts, waited patiently outside the elevator that was to bring Hernandez down from the team offices where his new contract was finalized to field level for the media festivities. Once those doors opened, the crowd greeted Hernandez and his wife Sandra with overwhelming cheers and loud chants of "King", "Felix" and "seven more years".

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Clearly touched by their gesture and overcome by his own emotions, Hernandez collected himself just enough to thank the crowd for their support and made sure to mention that he hoped the relationship would continue beyond the seven years he agreed to. Obviously those words drew another positive reaction.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times was on hand when Hernandez emerged from the elevator and had more to say about the reception Seattle's ace received. He also wrote about Hernandez's emotions carrying over into the press conference, and the overwhelming feeling he got that King Felix wasn't just looking for the big payday to fuel his desire to remain a Mariner.

It was a precursor to the raw emotion Hernandez displayed during the press conference, when he broke down several times while expressing his thanks his family, his agents, the organization, and just about everyone else, including the media. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a heartfelt statement from any athlete in a situation like this. Yes, he’s getting $175 million, which would make anyone happy, but I think anyone who watched him on the podium would agree that his connection to Seattle and Mariners is sincere.

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(AP)

In other Hernandez news, earlier in the day he finally received a clean bill of health after it was reported over the weekend that Seattle was concerned about potential damage to his pitching elbow. By Tuesday, that immediate concern had all but disappeared and on Wednesday it was a complete afterthought. Well, right up until the details of the contract were revealed anyway.

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In it, there's one condition specific to the elbow, but the reality is it's just insurance in case Hernandez misses significant time in the future and it allows the Mariners to extend him one extra year at a major discount to make up for it.

According to Stone, Hernandez also became the first Mariner to ever receive full no-trade provisions in his deal. But that's a seemingly minor detail since his 10-and-5 rights would kick in during May of the 2015 season.

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