Hernandez Has Mixed Success In Possible Last Rehab Start
By Mike Brandyberry
Sunday evening Roberto Hernandez made his third rehabilitation start in preparation for his return to major league action. In what could be his final start before being activated, Hernandez had mixed results.
Hernandez pitched seven and one-third innings, allowing five hits, four runs—four home runs—striking out nine and walking one on 97 pitches at Low-A Lake County. It was his second of the three rehab starts at Lake County.
“I feel great today, three of the home runs were breaking balls I left up,” Hernandez said. “I threw a lot of two-seam (fastballs) down. I just missed a couple pitches.”
Hernandez was in control early in the game, using all his pitches but especially his sinker to strike out hitters. He struck out eight in the first four innings and only allowed one home run. After the fourth it appeared Hernandez began to tire and his location in the strike zone began slip slightly, allowing the three home runs over his final ten outs.
Currently serving a three week suspension with Major League Baseball for falsifying his identity, Hernandez is not eligible to be on the roster until August 11. If this was his last outing before joining the Indians’ rotation, he would have an extra day of rest before making his first big league start of the year. Hernandez has not been told what the next step for his return is, however.
“I’m ready for whatever is my next start. They’ll tell me (Monday),” Hernandez said.
Regardless of role or when he returns to the rotation, Hernandez is anxious to get back to action and feels he is ready physically. Despite the home runs Sunday evening, it was the best he felt physically in his three rehab outings. Returning to big league action is something he’s anxious for, but he has not thought about how the fans will react, just preparing to pitch.
“I don’t think about the fans, I just try to be ready to pitch,” Hernandez said. “Concentration goes to the hitter, but I’m very excited.”
Already the Captains’ all-time winning pitcher with 19 career victories, Hernandez suffered the defeat Sunday evening. He could have become the franchise’s only 20 game winner. He had 17 wins in 2003, one in 2009 and one during his first rehab start ten days ago.
Hernandez is currently on the Restricted List and will have to be added to the 40-man and 25-man rosters when he is eligible to pitch.