One of the finest pitchers of his generation, Felix Hernandez will turn 31 years old in April, but he already began looking old last season.

In probably his worst season in a decade, the 2010 Cy Young winner and six-time All-Star went 11-8 with a 3.82 ERA. His velocity dropped to around 90 mph, he struggled with his control and his strikeout-to-walk ratio fell to the lowest of his career at 1.88. As rough as all that was, he says the worst part was being on the disabled list for nearly two months with an injured right calf. "I'm not used to being on the DL," he said.

Things went so poorly for King Felix that at the end of the season, Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais said Hernandez would have to make adjustments during the winter to "come into spring training in a little better shape and with more urgency."

Hernandez did so, working out extensively during the offseason. "It was really good," he said. "I worked out more this offseason than ever before. I did it to get back where I used to be three years ago."

He also pitched briefly in the Venezuelan Winter League, partly in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Hernandez pitched in the 2009 WBC but skipped the 2013 tournament while finalizing a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Mariners. He made certain to return to the WBC this year.

"He’s one of the best pitchers we’ve had in Venezuela -- his career has been phenomenal," Venezuela general manager Carlos Guillen said. "He prepared himself for this tournament, preparing from November. He wanted to be 100 percent for this tournament."

Hernandez struggled in his first WBC start but he looked close to his old form against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night when he threw five scoreless innings, allowing just three singles while striking out three. He also didn’t walk anyone.