Nats sign El Duque to Minors deal

Nats sign El Duque to Minors deal

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have signed right-hander Orlando Hernandez to a Minor League deal, according to a baseball source. Hernandez is the half brother of Washington right-hander Livan Hernandez.

Orlando, who is affectionately known as El Duque, will start a throwing program in Viera, Fla., and then work his way up in the Minor Leagues before being promoted to the big leagues. Hernandez will be a reliever for the Nationals and report to work on Monday, according to Livan.

"He was looking for a place to pitch," Livan said. "He is in great shape, and he throws every day. I think he is in better shape than anybody in baseball. He is unbelievable. He wakes up at six in the morning and does his thing. He is very professional with that. He has a chance to comeback and pitch."

This will be Hernandez's second tenure with the organization. On Jan. 15, 2003, Hernandez was part of a three-team trade that sent him from the Yankees to the Expos. However, he never played a Major League game for the Expos. After pitching one Spring Training game, Hernandez went on the disabled list and then had rotator cuff surgery.

Hernandez, 40, is 90-65 with a 3.72 ERA in nine big league seasons. He is best known for his years with the Yankees. He helped them win three World Series titles. He also helped the White Sox win a World Series in 2005. Hernandez's best season was in 1999, when he went 19-7 with a 4.12 ERA for New York.

Outfielder Willie Harris called Hernandez one of the hardest working baseball players he has ever met. Harris should know, they won a championship together with the White Sox in 2005.

"He is a great guy, leader. He can teach the younger guys how to go about their business in the bullpen," Harris said. "The thing I remember most about him is that he came in with the bases loaded in Boston -- nobody out -- and nobody scored [in Game 3 of the American League Division Series]. You think about that lineup in Boston. He is a great guy to have around. Hopefully, I will get a chance to see him."

The last time Hernandez pitched in the big leagues was in 2007, when he was with the Mets. That year, he was 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA.