Can Hernandez Still Be Effective At Age 42?

Any day now they'll activate Roberto Hernandez at Las Vegas. So, what kind of a pitcher did the Dodgers get? I mean, besides the fact that at age 42 he'll be the oldest active player in the system.

Well, for one thing he already has a ball park named after him and how many players can say that? It's at his alma mater South Carolina-Aiken where he was just about the best player ever to throw a pitch there. Good enough to go 10-2. Good enough that the Angels made him the 16th player selected in draft.

That was way back in 1986, though. Since then, here's a guy who's been through something like 11 organizations. He may have stayed too long at some places but he was always welcome at another.

When he's right, he throws a wicked splitter that batters can't seem to lay off. Mix in his fast ball which reaches into the 90's and sometimes gets up to 94 plus a slider that he knows when to throw and you have a pitcher who can eat up the innings.

He's never been a starter nor a closer but he's been used a lot. He was in 72 games for both the White Sox- where he had his most glorious years- and for Tampa Bay. But that was in 1996 for the former and 1999 for the latter. No, if he threw the way he used to, the Indians would have hung onto him.

But they let him go allowing the Dodgers to sign him as a free agent. There are those in L.A. that think he's not done yet. That maybe they have another Giovanni Carrara, a guy tossed aside by others who still knows how to get outs.

Hernandez has always been a bit of different species. For one thing, he's a native of Puerto Rico who went to prep school in New Hampshire and college in South Carolina. Not the normal path that someone from Santurce takes to the big leagues.

And at 42, he thinks there's still some life in his pitches yet. The situation with the Dodger pitching being what it is, they'll watch him at Vegas and see if they agree with him. If he's right, he could well be in Los Angeles before September.

If that happens, he won't be the oldest player ever to throw a pitch for the Dodgers. No, that would be Hoyt Wilhelm, who was 49 in 1972 when he did it. Jack Quinn was 48 in 1932.

So, there's been older guys around and if he can get outs, who's counting?

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