Hernandez ready to take the ninth?

We’ve been debating the merits of finding a new left-handed specialist or erasing the term.

Perhaps the Orioles, as a few fans have suggested here, should just make David Hernandez the closer and return Will Ohman to his original role.

I’m beginning to think the club is headed in that direction.

Manager Dave Trembley likes using Hernandez in the late innings for short bursts, taking full advantage of that mid-90s fastball. “Power against power,” as he called it after last night’s loss. He seems less inclined to transform Hernandez into a long man.

Trembley indicated that he’s inching Hernandez toward the ninth inning, though he didn’t come out and say it. Maybe that’s just the way I’m reading it.

Last night looked like another test for Hernandez, and he passed it. Not his fault that Miguel Tejada skipped a throw past Ty Wigginton and let two unearned runs scored in the seventh. Not his fault that a one-pitch bouncer from Alex Rodriguez didn’t produce the final out and keep the score tied.

Hernandez hasn’t been charged with a run in 3 1/3 innings since moving to the bullpen. He’s struck out five and hasn’t issued a walk.

We don’t know if Hernandez has the stomach to close out games. He doesn’t know it. There’s only one way to find out.

Maybe that time is fast approaching.

Heck, everyone gets a turn this year.

The trick is getting a lead in the ninth inning.

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