KANSAS CITY, Mo.: The Indians could lose a big piece of their pitching depth, as they head down the stretch trying to rise above last place in the American League Central Division.
OK, so maybe when a team has already finished second 88 times and there are only 12 games left in the season, depth is a secondary quality. At least that might be true for the fans.
It’s a different story for the front office and the manager, who are required to get a handle on as many players as possible before considerations of thumbs up or thumbs down are made in the winter.
Roberto Hernandez last pitched Aug. 27, less than two weeks after being activated from the restricted list, where he spent the season trying to obtain a work permit and serving a three-week suspension imposed by Major League Baseball for using a false identity (Fausto Carmona).
So after waiting through two-thirds of the schedule to report for work, Hernandez made only three starts (7.53 ERA, 14⅓ innings pitched) before sustaining a sprained ankle. He hasn’t pitched since.
Does manager Manny Acta need Hernandez to avoid a calamitous season? It’s far too late for that, but General Manager Chris Antonetti would like to get some idea of whether the club should exercise a $6 million option to keep Hernandez in 2013.
Acta already has said that Hernandez hasn’t pitched enough for anyone to know. But Acta also said that Tribe operatives will have an opportunity to see him against live hitters.
“Roberto threw a three-inning simulated game today and did PFP [pitchers fielding practice],” Acta said. “He still doesn’t look confident moving around on that ankle, but he’ll throw another simulated game on Wednesday. After that, we’ll evaluate him. The key to the whole process is to have him healthy by Oct. 3.”
Why then? Because Indians officials want him to have peace of mind going into the offseason.
“He’s pitching in winter ball,” Acta said. “He usually does, but most of the time it’s near the end. We want to give him permission to pitch more innings.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.