After returning to the United States over the weekend — and receiving three birthday cakes from his teammates — Roberto Hernandez made his first minor league rehab start tonight for Class A Lake County.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer passes along word that Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, allowed three runs (one earned) over five innings. He struck out four and walked none while throwing 46 out of 66 pitches for strikes.
Hernandez was arrested in his native Dominican Republic in January for falsifying his identity. He reached a deal in March to have the charges dropped in exchange for completing a work program and re-worked his contract with the Indians in hopes of avoiding a punishment from MLB. However, he is currently serving a three-week suspension.
Hernandez is eligible to return from his suspension on August 11, so he is currently lined up for two more tune-up starts.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.