Tuesday, January 19, 2010
#717) ANDERSON HERNANDEZ
Anderson Hernandez was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the New York Mets in exchange for Vance Wilson on January 6, 2005. The slick-fielding shortstop was brought over to provide a future replacement for Kaz Matsui at the second base position. That happened sooner than expected when Anderson was promoted from the minors, and made his major league debut at Shea Stadium on September 18, 2005. Hernandez was inserted as the starting second baseman that day. Unfortunately he would go hitless in his first 14 at-bats and not get a hit until the final game of the season. So it was not surprising that Anderson found himself just hoping to make the major league club during 2006 spring training camp. Due to the absence of many Mets players to the World Baseball Classic tournament he was finding ample playing time. Most of which was at shortstop for the missing José Reyes. "I don't look at where he plays so much as how he handles himself," Manager Willie Randolph said. "And, I like his approach." A good spring coupled with a knee injury to Kaz Matsui found the young switch-hitter not only on the roster, but the starting second baseman on Opening Day 2006. "Wherever they want me to play, I'll go." Hernandez said, "I just want to play." During the start of the season he continued to provide spectacular defense which even earned him the nickname "Air Hern" after an exceptionally aerobatic play. Still the hitting woes continued to haunt him. So when Matsui was ready to return, the Mets sent Anderson, who was suffering from a bulging disk in his lower back, to the disabled list on April 20, 2006.
Hernandez served most of the next two years with the Triple-A team in New Orleans, but did see a pair of brief call-ups along the way. In each case his lack of a consistent or powerful bat limited his opportunity to stick around. His first career home-run in the major leagues came at Shea Stadium on September 19, 2006. Ironically that swing, off Florida Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen, became the 6,000th regular season home-run hit in New York Mets history. Anderson was given to the Washington Nationals as the player to be named to complete the trade for Luis Ayala on August 17, 2008.
Anderson Hernandez signed his card in the set, for my friend Tom, during Washington Nationals Spring Training camp (Viera, Florida) in February 2009.