The 44-year-old Cuban-born righty is on a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, and allowed one hit and struck out one for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators tonight.
That strikeout was to Austin Romine, one of the Yankees top prospects…and Hernandez made it look easy, getting Romine on a nasty breaking pitch.
“You had to be very patient,” said Romine with a smile, “and I wasn’t.”
“I’ve never seen as slow of a curveball, but it’s still sharp. To be able to throw it that slow and still have depth in your pitches, that’s a gift. That’s pretty hard to do.”
The curveball that Romine struck out on, however, was not the pitch that had everybody talking. That honor would go to an eephus pitch that crossed the plate at a whopping 46 miles per hour with Corban Joseph at the plate.
“We didn’t know what that was…I didn’t even know (the radar gun) could read that low,” quipped D.J. Mitchell.
According to Hernandez, the eephus is something he’s thrown since his days in Cuba.
“I’ve thrown that before I come into the USA; in Cuba, I throw it,” he said.
“I don’t need to practice it.”
Hernandez was introduced by Thunder PA voice Bill Bromberg and received the loudest ovation of anyone, including Trenton players. It did not go unnoticed.
“I appreciated that,” he said.
“I have a lot of respect for the fans and the fans have a lot of respect for me. I’m happy to come here. It’s a good place to play baseball.”
Hernandez looked sharp at times, allowing just the one hit, but showing great command of his offspeed stuff. With his brother Livan currently pitching to the Nationals — they speak often — it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see Orlando back in the bigs one last time.
“I feel great tonight. I threw a good inning, a lot of strikes. You work hard every day. I’m just waiting for my next game…I work hard. I try to go back to Major League baseball.”
Enjoy these videos of “El Duque”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com