“We talked about it,” Hernandez said. “If I’m not happy with something, I’d say it. I don’t have a problem. I’m happy with the year I had. I’m happy to end the year here. That’s it.”
Taking Hernandez out of the rotation, though, means that Sunday could be final pitching appearance with the Nationals. He is playing on a one-year, $1 million contract. He has spoken with General Manager Mike Rizzo about returning the Nationals next season, maybe as a long reliever. “I’m waiting to see what happens,” Hernandez said.
And so tomorrow, the man who threw the first pitch in Nationals history could throw his last pitch in a Nationals’ uniform.
“I can’t think about that,” Hernandez said. “If it’s the last, it’s the last.”
If Hernandez does not return with the Nationals, the team most likely to sign him, a source close to Hernandez said, would be the Florida Marlins. Hernandez lives in Miami in the offseason. He won the World Series MVP for the Marlins in 1997, and he remains a popular figure in a city with a high Cuban population. The Marlins could also use Hernandez as a draw in their new stadium.
And, at 36, Hernandez has also proven he can still contribute to the back end of a rotation. He has a 4.29 ERA in 170 innings. His FIP – a metric that essentially formulates a pitcher’s ERA independent of fielding – is 3.89.
“I’m going to continue pitching,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to continue my career. I feel good that I had a good year. At the year, I got more wins last year. For me, I think I pitched good. For somebody [else], I don’t know.”
Manager Davey Johnson wants Hernandez around so he can ask Hernandez’s opinion of the young pitchers coming to the majors. He told him, “We know you’re a heck of a pitcher.”
Johnson also told Hernandez, “When we have an off day, I want to play golf with you.”