Archive for March 21st, 2009

For Minaya, Hernandez Has Always Been an Option

March 21, 2009

As the Mets inch closer and closer towards opening day on April 6th in Cincinnati, those who will round out their pitching staff are quickly coming into focus. With the recent departure of 22-year-old left-hander Jonathon Niese, who will be starting his season at Triple-A Buffalo, it almost all but assures the fifth spot in the rotation to veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez. But if you ask him, he will tell you that he’s not so sure.

“Nobody has told me. I’m still waiting to see what happens,” the 34-year-old right-hander said.

Perhaps the reason for the Mets’ hesitation in handing over the fifth-starter job to Hernandez is because when they signed the right-hander to a Minor League contract he was considered a third option. With the ineffectiveness of righty Freddy Garcia and the fact that Tim Redding, also a right-hander, will be opening up his regular season on the disabled list, Hernandez has become the team’s only option.

So far this spring, Hernandez has performed well. In 14.2 innings pitched, the most on the staff thus far, he has struck out seven batters and his five earned runs has produced a 3.07 ERA. However, in that time, he has surrendered 14 hits. GM Omar Minaya has always had a soft spot for the Cuban-born right-hander. Hernandez played under Minaya when he was the general manager of the Montreal Expos. Minaya was also interested in the right-hander during the 2007 off-season.

“Livan can give you innings; he can pitch in different roles,” Minaya said.

The Mets were looking to fill an opening in their starting rotation that year caused by the departure of left-hander Tom Glavine who had just signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves. Eventually, the team would go on to acquire lefty Johan Santana.