When Darwinzon Hernandez eventually returns to the Red Sox in the coming weeks, he will likely make at least one start before the end of the 2020 season.
The left-hander has been getting stretched out during his time at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, and that stretching out was on full display earlier Sunday morning.
With Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in attendance at McCoy Stadium, Hernandez worked the first 2 1/3 innings of a simulated game where he faced 11 total hitters.
In those 2 1/3 frames of work, the 23-year-old kept the opposition off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts.
According to The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch, Hernandez finished with a final pitch count of 40-50 before reaching his preset limit and also reached 96 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball.
Prior to Sunday, Hernandez’s last outing at McCoy had came on Tuesday, which as Koch notes, implies that the Venezuela native is on a “five-day program often followed by starters.”
Upon signing with Boston as an international free agent for $7,500 back in 2013, Hernandez originally came up as a starter through the Sox’ minor-league pipeline. His success as a reliever during his rookie season in the majors in 2019, however, made it appear as though that would be his role long-term, but due to all the starting pitching struggles the Red Sox have endured so far this year, that philosophy has since changed.
On Saturday, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke somewhat addressed this issue pertaining to Hernandez, although he really didn’t divulge too much into what the immediate future would hold for the southpaw upon his return to the majors.
““I would think at the beginning as a reliever and maybe try to build him up a little bit better there also,” the Sox skipper said of Hernandez. “And then if he slips into that starting role, then we’ll try to do that.”
Of course, Hernandez has to be activated from the 10-day injured list first. He was initially placed on the IL last month after contracting COVID-19 at his home in Venezuela, which in turn hampered the amount of work he could get in during the Sox’ Summer Camp workouts.
As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, when the Red Sox want to activate Hernandez, as well as fellow southpaw Josh Taylor, from the COVID-19 related injured list, they would need to open up two 40-man roster spots for that to happen since the pair of hurlers currently do not count against the club’s 40-man roster.
For now, Hernandez’s next sim game appearance in Pawtucket should come on Friday if he truly is on a five-day throwing program.