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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.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 25, 2009; 10:17 PM ET
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Next: An Off Day -- For Many


Thats too bad...I am quickly becoming a fan of his. He had a really good game defensively tonight. The kid has good range.

Here's to a speedy recovery. I would love to see him on our opening day lineup....

Posted by: FloresFan | March 25, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

people! we're winning games! and everyone's all "ho-hum, we beat the braves, what's for dinner?"

this is awesome!

Posted by: NatsNut | March 25, 2009 10:15 PM

I'm with ya NatsNut. I'm very encouraged with the offense. These Guys are going to put up a lot of runs.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 25, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I hope Andy takes a good 6-8 weeks... take his time and make sure that hammy's fully healed. Hell, take 12 weeks. We'll be waiting.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 25, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Lerner's appearance just plain embarrassing?

Posted by: JohnRDC | March 25, 2009 9:01 PM

So his dad was too cheap to pay for public speaking classes for him when he was a kid. That's why they have Kasten - to be the mouthpiece of the franchise. What was so embarrassing about him anyway, just that he was a little tongue tied on mic? Or are you thinking he is embarrassed in a Chico Harlan sense, utterly ashamed at his life direction and wishing he was a food writer instead?

Posted by: nunof1 | March 25, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

It was a sad night in South Carolina, for there is no MASN down here. This is territorially owned by the Braves, but sadly, this game was not televised. I had to rely on the live box score, oh joy. At least I was able to go on the MASN web site after the game to see some of the interviews. I was there last week at this time in Viera for the wednesday night game against the Marlins, a loss. Glad they were able to pull this one out, but, apparently the Nippon pitcher from the Braves was quite good tonight. At least when the regular season starts I'll have the mlb baseball cable subscription so I will miss the Nats no of 4/6 anyway. GO NATS...STAY HOT...the original SCNATSFAN.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 25, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

The game was also carried by MLB Network, which is part of the standard package on DirecTV. Think you have to pay extra for it on Comcast.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 25, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Pulled hammy, huh? what was the gametime temp there? Because I've done that when I was cold, or didn't stretch first, or was just out of shape.
(Accuweather says it's 71 there now--couldn't have been too bad. In Viera, even better.)

Posted by: CEvansJr | March 26, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Completely random Alumni News note:

Jon Rauch has a 10.71 ERA in seven games this spring for Arizona. Ouch.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 26, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

The Rauch note is interesting, and a continuation of his poor performance since the trade. I wish him well- this is an odd development.

Since Emilio Bonifacio is in our division, though, and he wasn't around long enough to get too attached to, I hope he attains only mediocrity.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 26, 2009 5:06 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to be down there for Saturday's and Monday's home games. Based on John Lannan pitching Friday, does anyone have any guesses for who will be starting Saturday and then Monday (they play a road game on Sunday)?

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | March 26, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

I missed all of the online fun, having been watching downstairs last night.

On the MASN goofs front, how about when they showed Wil Nieves with a Jesus Flores caption? It was corrected in the next frame, if memory serves.

Re. the Mark Lerner interview, what's up with Bob Carpenter trying to assign my moniker to him? He said that Ted Lerner was the biggest fan in the family at #1 so that son Mark would have to be #1a. Sorry, guys, that one's taken.

Dibble doesn't really bother me so far as he seems to do with others. I was just glad to be watching a Nats game again.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 26, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

A Hammy injury at this time of the spring? PLEASE!!! Fire the conditioning coach!! How in the hell do you have players sustaining injuries like Hernandez if you are properly stretching them throughout spring training and Manny or his coaching staff should be on top of this.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 26, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

This is great news. Fat Ronnie is one of the best hitters on the team. We need him in there.

Posted by: RickFelt | March 26, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

My favorite moments of the game last night were watching Nick Johnson play well. Losing him at first base would really hurt our young pitchers.

Posted by: Natsgal | March 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Everybody makes mistakes, and it was just Dibble's second broadcast, but stumbling to remember Josh -- ah, ah, ah -- (Carpenter jumps in) Willingham, and not mentioning Kearns in the outfield mix is pretty bad. Later he talked about submariner "Cory" Bradford (guess he never read Money Ball) and knew only the last name of one of the Braves' players. Is this a lack of preparation? Then there was dead air when he was talking to Mark Lerner. Dibble stopped after making a statement without asking a question, and seemed to wonder why Fan 1A didn't respond. He talked over Carpenter a few times (to be expected early on, I suppose) but at least he didn't dominate things, as I was afraid he would.

Posted by: nats24 | March 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

It does my heart good to see Nick on the field and healthy (knock wood).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

If Johnson can come anywhere near the 23 homer, gold-glove quality season he had in 2006, the Nationals are going to be a much improved team.

The trouble with this organization has been that its best players can never seem to stay healthy.

Patterson, Hill were always on the DL.

Zimmerman, Milledge, Dukes all missed significant portions of the 2008 season.

Then there was Chad Cordero.

Health has a LOT to do with how improved this club is in 2009.

The talent in my opinion is there for this team to make a 15-18 game improvement in the standings if not greater.

I know Boswell recited the history of teams being able to improve that much in one year is rare, but the 2008 Nationals record really was that horrible.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 26, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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