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Reds DFA reliever Hernandez, recall Romano

@m_sheldon
August 9, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Following a long period of struggling, veteran reliever David Hernandez was designated for assignment by the Reds on Friday. Cincinnati recalled right-handed pitcher Sal Romano from Triple-A Louisville to shore up the bullpen. In 47 appearances and 42 2/3 innings in 2019, Hernandez has an 8.02 ERA and

CINCINNATI -- Following a long period of struggling, veteran reliever David Hernandez was designated for assignment by the Reds on Friday. Cincinnati recalled right-handed pitcher Sal Romano from Triple-A Louisville to shore up the bullpen.

In 47 appearances and 42 2/3 innings in 2019, Hernandez has an 8.02 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. He was a big part of the bullpen’s early success, but he then endured the poorest stretch of his career.

Over his past 12 appearances, Hernandez has a 24.75 ERA, with five home runs allowed. That included a two-run homer by Ian Happ in the seventh inning of Thursday’s 12-5 loss to the Cubs. Hernandez gave up five runs over 1 2/3 innings during his final outing for the Reds.

The rough period included a stint on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain from July 18-31.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

It wasn’t easy for manager David Bell to give Hernandez the news upon his arrival to Great American Ball Park.

“Especially when it’s a guy like David,” Bell said. “He’s had a really successful career. He’s a guy that not only was a good pitcher for us but has been in this organization for a while. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great person. He left an impression on a lot of people in the organization, on our team, in the clubhouse. He set a great example.”

In June, Hernandez’s teammates celebrated when he reached 10 full years of service time and became fully vested in the Major League pension program.

“He’s really going to be missed -- a lot,” Bell said. “The good thing for him is he’s got a lot going for him. Hopefully, he can continue to pitch for a long time. He should be proud of what he’s accomplished so far in his career.”

Hernandez, 34, signed a two-year contract worth $5 million with the Reds on Jan. 30, 2018, and was one of the bullpen’s assets last year, when he posted a 2.53 ERA over 57 appearances and 64 innings. Cincinnati will have to take a loss on the remainder of the $2.5 million Hernandez is owed for this season.

For Romano, this will be his second stint in the big leagues in 2019, following longer stays in '17 and '18. On July 23 at Milwaukee, his only appearance this season, he threw the final three innings for a save in a 14-6 win. Over his past six games -- including five starts -- for Louisville, Romano posted 1.71 ERA.

Bell didn’t say if Romano would be a long reliever again.

“We’re at a point where it’s whatever it takes to win games. We really like what we saw with Sal,” Bell said. “He’s continued to pitch well at Triple-A. He’s had quite a good stretch.

“Potentially [he’s a long man] because he’s built up. He could be in a long role or a shorter role.”

O’Grady has MLB debut
Freshly called up from Louisville on Monday, outfielder Brian O'Grady was on deck with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to pinch-hit vs. the Angels. But he didn’t get to bat during the 7-4 win because the Reds couldn’t extend the inning. O’Grady had to wait a little longer to make his Major League debut.

That moment came during Thursday’s loss, when O’Grady was sent out to play center field in a double switch during the top of the eighth inning. The 27-year-old lefty hitter got to bat in the ninth and popped out to third base.

“The anticipation was killing me, honestly,” O’Grady said Friday. “It was cool to do it in front of my parents, and my uncle drove up and my girlfriend is here. It was fun. It was surreal. I really tried to take it in and enjoy it.”

A Philadelphia native, O’Grady was an eighth-round pick of the Reds in the 2014 MLB Draft out of Rutgers. He spent five seasons in the Minor Leagues slowly working up the organizational ladder.

“I would say he worked his way all the way through,” Bell said. “There is a lot of toughness there with him that I think allowed him to never give up. He’s turned himself into a really good player.”

In 100 games for Louisville, O’Grady batted .277 with a .913 OPS, 27 home runs, 70 RBIs and 16 steals. He can play all three outfield spots but spent most of his time at first base.

“It’s definitely a longer road than I was hoping it would have been,” O’Grady said. “I think I’ve really been through just about everything you can go through down there. I feel like I’m prepared now that I am here. It was just validation for all the hard work, starting even when I was younger, and my parents were driving me to all these games and all that stuff. It’s like when I was drafted, it felt like it was validation for all that stuff, and now it’s, ‘All right, you literally did it.’ It’s really cool.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.