Veteran right-hander leads NL in starts, innings pitched
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Livan Hernandez paces the NL in games started, innings pitched and complete games. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)
HOUSTON -- Chalk up another achievement on the growing list of accomplishments for Livan Hernandez.
Hernandez was the World Series MVP while with the Florida Marlins in 1997. In 2002, he made a second World Series appearance with the San Francisco Giants, who fell to the Anaheim Angels.
On Tuesday night, Hernandez will add another personal milestone to his impressive nine-year big-league career.
"I won the World Series in '97 when I was 21 years old," Hernandez said. "Everybody has got dreams and you want to make the dreams come true. The All-Star Game is something special for me, because it's something I wanted to do. It was part of my dreams. I made it. And you never know when you are going to come back. I wanted to make it one time. I think it's great. My family is happy."
Hernandez is the lone Expo on the National League squad for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic at Minute Maid Park.
In a difficult first half for Montreal, Hernandez was unsure if he would get the call because Jose Vidro overcame a rough start and made himself All-Star worthy. The switch-hitting second baseman raised his batting average to .291 with 10 home runs and 39 RBIs at the break.
Vidro's improvement, coupled with Hernandez's 6-8 record, created doubt in the mind of the 29-year-old.
In Hernandez's case, however, the won-loss record is deceptive.
He leads the National League in games started (19), innings pitched (135 2/3) and complete games (four). He's thrown one shutout, and his 102 strikeouts rate ninth. Also eye-catching is a solid 3.58 ERA.
"I think me and Vidro -- one was going to the All-Star Game, but nobody knew who would go," the Cuban-born Hernandez said. "Vidro is hitting .290, and he's got good numbers heading into the All-Star Game, too."
Deep down, Hernandez was skeptical that he would be bound for Houston until manager Frank Robinson broke the news.
"It just surprised me because it's something I didn't expect," Hernandez said. "The record is 6-8, but it's not about [the] record. I've thrown more innings than anybody in the league. I have complete games. I'm in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts. The record is important. But the other numbers, I think are good, too."
A lack of run support has also hurt the veteran.
Montreal ranks last in the league in runs scored, with 290.
Livan Hernandez / P
Weight: 240 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"I can't do anything about that," Hernandez said of run support. "I go on the mound and do my job. I never think when I go to the mound that the team isn't going to hit. I go focused and try to pitch my game, and try to win."
Despite a rough first half, Hernandez feels the Expos showed improvement in recent weeks and should be more competitive.
"The thing is, we are starting to play better now," Hernandez said. "I think in the second half we're going to play better and maybe win more games. I think we will be all right. In the first half, everybody struggled together. Everybody struggled at the same time.
"I think in the second half, Vidro is better. Everybody is waiting for [shortstop Orlando] Cabrera to come back and be better. These three days off, everybody is home relaxed, with their families. They should enjoy their three days off, then come back and play better."
The fact the team plays 22 home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, takes its toll. And the uncertainty about where the club will play next season also is draining.
"It's hard for everybody because everybody is waiting to find out what is going on," Hernandez said. "Puerto Rico is like you are on the road, because you stay in a hotel. It's hard for me. I don't think about anything. I go to play baseball everywhere."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.