Hernández Playing Way Into '09 Mix

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Since coming to Washington from the New York Mets in a trade for Luis Ayala, Anderson Hernández has had the best month of his professional life -- a period so transforming that his old team barely recognizes him and his new team has re-imagined his role.

Yesterday, Hernández, 25, was again in the lineup, his 13th start in 25 games with Washington. He looks nothing like the player who left the Mets organization with little confidence after hitting .203 at Class AAA New Orleans. He looks little like the player Washington envisioned at the time of the trade -- a weak-hitting middle infielder. Rather, he looks more and more like a candidate for a starting job. Though the team tabbed Emilio Bonifacio, 23, acquired in July, as its second baseman of the future, Hernández's play has confused that certainty.

Manager Manny Acta yesterday acknowledged plans to have Bonifacio (batting .246 with the Nationals) and Hernández (batting .327) compete in spring training for a starting job, perhaps alongside Alberto González. Right now, Hernández -- like Bonifacio, a switch hitter -- is better against left-handers and breaking balls. The players are both top-flight fielders, Acta said, and as a result, "it will have to be what they bring to the table offensively and on-base percentage and stuff like that."

But, Acta added: "The last month of the season is that lasting impression you leave on people. So going into spring training, whoever played the best probably has the upper hand."

Since joining the Nationals, Hernández has more hits and more walks in 53 at-bats than he had in New York over three seasons (87 at-bats).

"Well, I was traded, and I just had a new breath," Hernández said. "I said, I'll just start again."

MASN Plans More HD Next Season

MASN announced that it will launch a full-time high-definition channel in March 2009, an effort to double the HD telecasts for Orioles and Nationals games. MASN said in a release that it hopes to broadcast some 200 games next year in HD. This year, the Nationals had just 40 games in HD.

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