David Hernandez, one of the candidates to take over the Phillies’ vacant closer’s role, is battling a sore right elbow, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Hernandez hasn’t pitched in a spring training game since March 1. He was scheduled to pitch Saturday but wasn’t used and he decided to take Sunday off as well.
That Hernandez’s elbow is bothersome is concerning because Hernandez missed all of the 2014 season and the first half of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Manager Pete Mackanin on the injury:
“He has some issues with his elbow,” Mackanin said. “I don’t know what they are. Issues is the best way I can put it. I don’t know if it’s even serious or they’re just backing off on it.”
“I want to know exactly how far he’s been set back,” Mackanin said. “Obviously he’s been setback. I’m curious to find out how soon he can get back out there.”
The Phillies inked the 30-year-old Hernandez to a one-year, $3.9 million deal in December, just a few days before the club traded Ken Giles to the Astros. Hernandez has 19 career saves, but has never been a full-time closer. Across 414 1/3 career innings, he has a 4.15 ERA with 414 strikeouts and 175 walks.
Behind Hernandez, there aren’t any household names ready to step up into the closer’s role. Luis Garcia is ostensibly the favorite if Hernandez isn’t healthy by Opening Day. Some non-roster invitees do have closer experience, including Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica, and Ernesto Frieri.