Hernández opts out of contract with Orioles

Veteran pitcher Félix Hernández has opted out of his contract with the Orioles, a source confirmed this morning.

Hernández goes back into free agency after agreeing to a minor league deal with the Orioles that paid $1 million if he made the club.

Ed-Smith-Stadium-Interior-Sidebar.jpgElbow soreness forced Hernández out of his last start after the first inning of a March 16 game in Port Charlotte. He retired the side in order, but manager Brandon Hyde noticed bad body language on the mound that hinted at an injury.

Hernández, 34, recently threw a light bullpen session and was going to try again, according to Hyde, who provided a brief update yesterday.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc also opted out of his deal last week and signed a major league contract a day later. Hernández could circle back to the Orioles, as well, but he’s now removed from a camp roster that requires nine more cuts before opening day.

Outfielder DJ Stewart is expected to go on the 10-day injured list.

The Orioles would have needed a 40-man roster spot for Hernández.

Hernández, a Cy Young Award winner with the Mariners in 2010, opted out last summer after an impressive spring training with the Braves. He allowed five earned runs and six total in 5 2/3 innings with the Orioles, with six hits, two walks and five strikeouts. His fastball consistently sat in the mid-80s.

He simply ran out of time to make the club and the rotation appears set with John Means, Matt Harvey, Bruce Zimmermann, Dean Kremer and Jorge López. The last two spots haven’t been confirmed.

LeBlanc and newly acquired Adam Plutko can work in long relief and provide starter options. The club also is deciding whether to keep Rule 5 picks Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was first with the Hernández news.

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