PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. The time for a decision is drawing close, and right-hander Roberto Hernandez knows each outing with be inspected with careful attention. He remains in a race for the fifth rotation spot with right-hander Jeff Niemann, the innings for both gaining more importance with each day.
On Thursday, in the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, Hernandez made his latest push for the job. His line: three hits, two strikeouts and one run after Colby Rasmus cracked a homer to right field in the top of the fifth inning. The start wasnt spotless, but it wasnt damaging either.
Every game is very important for me, Hernandez said. Every opportunity that I have to go to the mound, every pitch is important for me. I try to keep the ball down and make ground balls.
He did a fair job of it Thursday. Rays manager Joe Maddon praised Hernandezs offering Everything was working, Maddon said and compliments were reserved for the pitchers changeup and slider.