The Nationals have signed 44-year-old Orlando Hernandez to a minor-league contract, according to two club sources. Hernandez, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2007, has been working out at the Nationals' rehab facility in Viera, Fla., for several weeks. The team officially signed him and reported the contract to MLB yesterday.
The right-hander, who is the half-brother of Nationals starter Livan Hernandez, last pitched in the majors in 2007, when he went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA for the Yankees. He pitched eight games as a reliever for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate last year after recovering from foot surgery.
Hernandez, who signed with the Yankees in 1998 as a Cuban refugee, has a 90-65 major-league record. It's questionable how long he would need to be ready to pitch, but it's a low-risk signing for them - and according to Livan Hernandez, Orlando Hernandez can still be an effective reliever.
The two worked out all offseason in Miami, and Orlando Hernandez pitched during winter ball in Venezuela. Livan Hernandez said his half-brother expected he'd get a minor-league contract this spring.
Livan Hernandez said he mentioned the possibility of signing Orlando Hernandez to general manager Mike Rizzo, and after watching him throw, the Nationals decided to a gamble on "El Duque," who last pitched for the Mets.
"It's very exciting," LIvan Hernandez said. "He'll go report, I think, in Viera. He's staying in great shape. I think he's in better shape than many of the pitchers in baseball. ... As a reliever, he can be very tough for a right-hander. He made that decision to be a reliever, and it'll be perfect for him."