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After 900 At Bats, The At Bats Resume

During the 2008 calendar year, Anderson Hernandez had, by his count, almost 900 at bats. He was with the Mets in spring training, then New York's Class AAA New Orleans affiliate and then, after a trade, he landed in Washington. Oh, and then he played winter ball -- no break. It was his best year as a professional baseball player, because his progress with the Nationals (where he had a .407 OBP and a .333 AVG in 81 at bats) convinced the team that he could serve as their 2009 starting second baseball. But it was also his busiest year.

As a result, Hernandez spent the first week of the exhibition season resting.

"Sometimes," Hernandez said today, "you need to rest even if you don't feel tired."

He didn't. Rather, he said his legs felt fresh. But he worried what might happen later in the year if he kept playing without pause. Only today does Hernandez get his first chance to return to action -- and to show he's worthy of the second base job.

"I came here to win the job," Hernandez said.

Without further ado...

Today's lineup

Hernandez - 4
Milledge - 8
Zimmerman - 5
Johnson - DH
Dukes - 9
Bernadina - 7
Whitney - 3
Desmond - 6
Nieves - 2

Scheduled pitchers

Lannan
Martis
Estrada
Ledezma
Glover

* One other note. The MRI came back on catcher Jesus Flores's right elbow, indicating what Manager Manny Acta called "just a very mild strain." He'll be held out of action, Acta said, for four or five days.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 3, 2009; 9:45 AM ET
 
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Comments

2nd baseball, new position. The minor injuries always worry me. Maybe the fear factor from last year is habit now. Are they only DHing Johnson to try and prevent injury?

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 3, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I imagine they're DHing Johnson because they know his fielding ability, and want to see how the rest of the prospects (Whitney, Marrero, etc.) pan out, both with ABs against MLB starting pitchers and in the field.

Posted by: faNATic | March 3, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

or they're DHing him to bring him along slowly.

Posted by: sec231 | March 3, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

... I don't normally nor would I want to make a habit of posting in a new thread about a previous one. That said however, I just want to (1) congratulate Dave Sheinen and his wife on the arrival of the newest bit of perfection.

... and (2), I want to ask this one simple question. Why would anyone think that the views of a blogger (as reported in Steinberg's column, linked to in 'Morning Notes') are at all newsworthy? Granted, topics in columns are not always considered newsworthy, but someone had to agree that this one was worth the paper and ink used on it. I'd much rather read an interview about the quality of stadium food from one of the concession stand attendants at Nationals Park. That would make more sense to me.

... sorry if that sounds too harsh. It's just that I'm still having a hrd time getting a handle on the idea that anyone with an opinion and a keyboard can propose him or herself as a baseball pundit. I know a couple of food bank, soup kitchen guys who are quite literate and knowledgable about any number of things, but whose voices will never be heard. It ain't fair; it just ain't fair, I tell ya!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 3, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if today's game will be on the radio?

Posted by: FloresFan | March 3, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The MRI came back on catcher Jesus Flores's right elbow, indicating what Manager Manny Acta called "just a very mild strain." He'll be held out of action, Acta said, for four or five days.

Translation: Flores won't throw out a base stealer until Fourth of July. 2010.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 3, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

No Charlie and Dave games scheduled until next Monday, FloresFan. Don't know about other options. On the bright side, this Friday's game will be televised.

Also, I've been wondering the same thing as in your item (2), natscan.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Was pretty easy to get 3, 300 level seats for opening day this morning. Guess the scalpers don't think that President Obama will make it over for the first pitch.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

A good showing by Hernandez over the next week or two might give Kasten the confidence and flexibility to take Manny Acta's "security blanket" and move him for prospects or as a package for a reliever.

I love Belli, but he deserves a shot at another ring, he hits well off the bench, has playoff experience and a favorable contract. What's not to like?

Posted by: estuartj | March 3, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

natscan, Steinberg has a blog for the Post, not a column. Although the Post does regularly print excerpts from his blog in the print edition. I don't think the Fire Jim Bowden piece Steinberg posted was deemed print-worthy, though, if that eases your angst any.

Nevertheless, we can only hope that this Fire Jim Bowden guy's 15 minutes of fame are almost over now. He's definitely milking this one for all it's worth.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 3, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I'll be interested to see how long AH can keep up his hitting. There really is not precedent for it in his AAA record (over 1700 at bats in 3 or 4 seasons). .262, with an OBP barely over .300. I sort of feel like he's the hitting equivalent of Wily Coyote, using the latest ACME device to speed over a cliff. As long as he does not look down and moves his feet like he's running, he's OK, but as soon as he looks down . . .

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 3, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Also, NatsNut, he said "without futher ado."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Of course the submit button works just fine and dandy when my post has a typo in it....

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Your media guide for the next week...
Today-Thursday: I got nothing for you.
Friday: TV: MASN / Radio: WJZ
Saturday: TV: MLB.TV (That would be the Mets feed)
Sunday: Radio: WFAN
Monday: Radio: WFED & KBME
Tuesday: Radio: WFED
Wednesday: Off day

So there's that.

Posted by: OldDude | March 3, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Kev29:

I was watching the Phillies and Rays over the weekend, and the Phillies announcers said that Obama is throwing out the first pitch at the Nats opening day...

I got my tickets, too.

Posted by: wigi | March 3, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

wigi - I doubt the Philly announcers would know before our own people announce it.

Posted by: AnonymousSources | March 3, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Nice work, OldDude.

Speaking of TV, I really enjoyed the Young family special that aired on MLB Network last night. According to the schedule on the network's site, it's slated to run again on March 22.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Agreed JCA, I'm wondering what the team expects from AH to be the starter? I assume they expect him to have improved on his AAA background (ie had a breakout season), but we have no idea what he has done to make '08 look like progress and not an aberation.

So what do they expect of him to keep his job as the starting 2Bman, his defense is a given, his speed/baserunning are a given too. If they intend him to eventually be our leadoff hitter then you want an obp of .350+ and hopefully he won't be a pure slap hitter so you'd want him to slug at least .400?

How does that change if you think Milledge is the longterm leadoff and AH will be batting 7th or 8th for the forseable future? I'd think the percentages would be about the same but you'd want him gettting a few more hits vs walks in the bottom of the order, but is that even true, if he can get on ahead of the pitcher with his speed you have a legitimate scoring threat if the top of the order comes back up (which woulld be very nice with the potential power combination of Milledge - Dukes at 1-2).

Posted by: estuartj | March 3, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Wow - announcers calling an invitation/rumor a fact. Good reporting on their behalf. Guess they're trying to encourage even more Filthydelphians to come down.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

With opening day tickets apparently easy to get so far, I hate to see how many filthydelphia fans will be there...yuck.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 3, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

natscan, while I tend to appreciate what Steinberg does over at the Bog, I do agree with you regarding SOCH.

Many of us have been critical of Bowden, but we found a way to do this without cherry picking stats and being belligerent and dismissive. I thought Bowden's firing meant we'd heard the last of that guy. Sadly, no.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 3, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Bog chat on.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

SOCH is a menace. I suspect he is from Philly.

Posted by: Section506 | March 3, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

JiM:
If memory serves, Lindsey Applebaum (of former "Crowd noise" imfamy) now works with Steinbog. The piece with SoCH felt like it had her influence.

On other news, I'm suprised that some of the other pitchers in camp (Towers, Martin, Brownlie, etc) aren't scheduled against the Azzuri. It will be good however, to have Whitney get some live hitting in.

Posted by: BinM | March 3, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Also, NatsNut, he said "without futher ado."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 10:34 AM

******************

Grrrrr

Posted by: NatsNut | March 3, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Tidbit from MLBTR, 45 worst contracts in baseball, strangely, no Dmitri Young, though its tough to go too far wrong on a 2 year deal. Anyway, Soriano, Kearns and Johnson make the list;

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs. Eight years, $136MM ($17MM per year). Signed November of 2006. This backloaded deal includes a full no-trade clause. Jim Hendry bought high on Soriano; he's dealt with injuries as a Cub.
Austin Kearns, Nationals. Three years, $17.5MM ($5.83MM per year). Signed January of 2007. He was coming off a respectable 2006 season.
Nick Johnson, Nationals. Three years, $16.5MM ($5.5MM per year). Signed March of 2006. The Nats already had him under control for '06, which turned out to be his best year.

Also of note at least are Aaron Rowand and Andruw Jones (since so many hear called for their signing).

Posted by: estuartj | March 3, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

So many HERE, no hear. I need more coffee...

Posted by: estuartj | March 3, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Shouldn't we have mentioned that in 479 of those ABs that he hit .203/ .262/ .307.

Don't those tell us as much, if not more, than the MLB ones?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 3, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

is nick really a 'worst contract in baseball?' seems silly to bash a $5.5m contract based on injuries (even if he was an injury risk). at least he produced when healthy, unlike kearns.

Posted by: sec231 | March 3, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

You are right, Uncle_Teddy, that's what this spring training is for (and also Ronnie Belliard and Willie Harris). Because his Dominican league numbers and his Major League numbers were so good, the thought is that he just thrives at a higher level of competition/figured something out.

So, we'll be seeing. He has options, and we have proven talent.

Here's his Dominican stats, by the way:

http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=Anderson%20Hernandez&pos=2B&sid=l131&t=p_pbp&pid=435038

Posted by: Section506 | March 3, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree 231, especially since NJ has a steady AAV contract while AK's escalates. If NJ is even marginally healthy this year he can make up a lot of that lost value, whereas AK would have to have the mother of all moster years to deserve his $8mil this year (not even counting the $1mil buyout).

Posted by: estuartj | March 3, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

There's a difference between hoping and expecting something.

I'd hope that Hernandez can hit. But if you're expecting it, given his long track record of inability to hit, you're crazy.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 3, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

After taking a look at AH numbers I'm much less optimistic. He did very well in the bigs, but over 20 something games that means little. He also did very well in the DWL, but dissapeared in the post season (though again only 6 games).

Posted by: estuartj | March 3, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

In regards to NJ: What is the conventional wisdom of the denizens of this blog about signing/trading NJ if he were to have a productive season.

If he is healthy, hitting well and being his usual stellar self at first base, what will happen?

Are we that close to seeing one of the kids be ready by 2010 that trading NJ for prospects and/or young ML ready talent?

Posted by: TimDz | March 3, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Was pretty easy to get 3, 300 level seats for opening day this morning. Guess the scalpers don't think that President Obama will make it over for the first pitch.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 3, 2009 10:22 AM
----------------------------------
I think once it is officially announced, the game will sell out just to get a photo and say you were there so it should attract even non-baseball fans.

Can you imagine all the press that will be there for the pitch?

I have my tickets already too, but I am looking forward to seeing a new Nats team and it is a bonus if the Prez is there!

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 3, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

There's a new post, FYI.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 3, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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