Hernandez is added to bullpen
Dodgers Manager Grady Little had said he wasn’t comfortable with only 11 pitchers at his disposal. And he showed his discomfort level with overusing his bullpen Tuesday when he left starter Mark Hendrickson in the line of fire for three-plus innings against the Philadelphia Phillies even though Hendrickson was shelled for seven runs and 11 hits.
Wednesday, Little got his 12th pitcher. The Dodgers purchased the contract of 42-year-old right-hander Roberto Hernandez from the team’s triple-A team in Las Vegas and optioned second baseman Tony Abreu to that club.
Little foresees calling upon Hernandez in the sixth or seventh innings, a spot previously filled by Chad Billingsley, now in the starting rotation, and Chin-hui Tsao, now on the disabled list.
“I feel like he’ll be a valuable piece for us in that part of the bullpen,” Little said of Hernandez. “We’ve gotten ourselves in that position where we could use three outs there at that part of the game and we think he’ll help us greatly in that area.... He’s still got a lot left in that arm.... Now is the time for him to come back.”
Did Hendrickson’s performance Tuesday exacerbate the situation?
“It didn’t help any,” Little said. “We know we’re on the edge, operating with 11 pitchers, anyway. So we’ll go with the 12 now and see if we can’t get it done.”
Hernandez was released by the Cleveland Indians after posting a 6.23 earned-run average in 28 games. He said the Indians tried to trade him to the Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates before they released him.
Hernandez, who has 326 career saves, had a 3.11 ERA last season, split between the Pirates and New York Mets. He has played for 10 teams but has never made it to a World Series.
“I’ve played 16 years. What else can I ask for?” he said. “About the only thing I’m searching for is a ring. Hopefully, this will be an opportunity.”
The switch-hitting Abreu had 118 at-bats in 43 games, producing a .288 average, one homer and nine RBIs.
“I wasn’t playing here,” he said through an interpreter. “I should be playing every day somewhere and this is a chance for me to do that.”
Abreu said he was a little surprised to be sent down.
“I’m not the boss,” he said. “I’m not the manager. But I don’t go against what they have to say. They know what’s best.”
What’s best, Little said, is to keep Abreu on the field, even if it’s a minor league field.
“This guy performed for us while he was here,” Little said. “But he’s at a point where he’s doing too much sitting on the bench, and that’s not really what you want to do with a 22-year-old player.... He’ll be back here.”
Philadelphia right-hander J.D. Durbin not only got the victory Tuesday night but enough memorabilia to fully stock a trophy room.
Durbin had three of the Phillies’ 26 hits in the team’s 15-3 victory.
Durbin saved the ball from the first of the three singles -- his first major league hit -- his bat, which broke on his third hit, and the ball signifying his initial major league victory in his third career start.
Times staff writers Helene Elliott and Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.