Hamstring Injury For Hernandez [UPDATED]
Last time Anderson Hernandez had the chance to be a starting second baseman, it was 2006. He was with the Mets at the time. He held the job for all of two weeks. Batting .146 on April 17 of that year, Hernandez went down with a back injury. He didn't appear again in a big league game that year until September, and by then, he was an afterthought, surpassed in the organization by guys like Jose Valentin and Kaz Matsui.
Now, for the first time since '06, Hernandez is within reach of an Opening Day starter job. And he might have temporarily lost it tonight. He went down in the sixth inning with a left hamstring strain. For now, the Nats don't have a timetable for how long he'll be out. They'll know more tomorrow. But Hernandez was seen limping around after the game, able to walk on his own -- albeit very gingerly.
"You worry," Manager Manny Acta said. "Especially a guy like him who has such a good opportunity here."
Ronnie Belliard replaced Hernandez in this game, and now the question is, how long does Belliard have the everyday job? If Hernandez begins the year on the disabled list, the Nats will consider using a roster spot for an extra infielder -- somebody like Kory Casto or Alberto Gonzalez, perhaps even Alex Cintron.
Before the injury, Hernandez had enjoyed a strong spring, bringing a .308 average into tonight's game. Acquired on Aug. 20, 2008, in a trade with the Mets, Hernandez was unheralded at the time, but he hit .333 in the season's last month, convincing Washington that he deserved a starting job.
A few other notes from this game...
* Best start of the spring for Collin Balester. Five innings, four hits, two runs. Just 55 pitches. He started 12 of 19 batters with strikes. "It feels good," Balester said. "This game is simple if you throw strikes." Asked if he thought this progress was too late to help his bid for a rotation spot, Balester said, "I can't do anything about that."
* Nick Johnson had a pair of RBI hits and boosted his average to .250.
* Owner Mark Lerner was at the ballgame. This is the second time I've seen him around NatsTown, Fla., this year.
* Jordan Zimmermann is starting on the minor league side tomorrow. John Lannan pitches the Friday night game against the Mets -- and Johan Santana.
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