WASHINGTON - The Nationals list seven outfielders on their 60-player pool and only two of them do not have Major League experience.
But that could change soon, as Yadiel Hernandez – 32 and from Cuba – was added to the active roster on Thursday, a day after Howie Kendrick went on the Injured List.
That leaves Jeremy De La Rosa, 18, as the only outfielder at the alternate site in Virginia who has never been on a Major League roster.
Hernandez will get his shot now.
“He is a funny kid. He keeps the guys loose,” co-field coordinator in player development Tommy Shields told Federal Baseball on Thursday of Hernandez.
“He is one of everyone’s favorite guys.”
Shields had been working with Hernandez in Fredericksburg. “Very professional at-bats. He goes to left field very well,” Shields said of the left-handed hitter.
“Great story; he has worked his tail off to get here,” manager Dave Martinez said Thursday.
“Super proud of him. Really happy he is here. He is a great kid. He is a left-handed hitter off the bench. I know he is excited.”
Martinez met with Hernandez at Nationals Park on Thursday. “His eyes got watery. He worked really hard to get here,” Martinez said. “I am super proud he is here.”
The move was made as the Nationals plan to continue using Juan Soto at the DH spot due to some elbow problems.
“We don’t know when Juan can throw again,” Martinez said. “He is going to start throwing a little bit. Yadiel has been swinging the bat well.”
Hernandez has yet to play in the majors and may not get a chance Thursday with heavy rain falling at Nationals Park.
He hit 12 homers in 120 games for Double-A Harrisburg in 2017 after joining Washington.
Last year he hit 30 homers with 90 RBI and OPS of 1.009 with Triple-A Fresno.
Another outfielder who hits left-handed at the alternate site is Andrew Stevenson, who is on the 40-man roster. Martinez confirmed that Stevenson was healthy but the organization decided to go with Hernandez.
“Very quiet kid – always engaged. He’s a student of the game,” Martinez said of Hernandez. “Great story.”