Hernandez hit by liner, suffers forearm bruise

April 5th, 2022

JUPITER, Fla. -- It didn't look good when a comebacker struck Marlins starting pitcher Elieser Hernandez during the first inning of Tuesday's Grapefruit League finale at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Luckily, it seems Hernandez dodged a serious injury, as he was diagnosed with a right forearm contusion.

Cardinals outfielder Tyler O'Neill lined Hernandez's 90 mph four-seamer back at the pitcher with an exit velocity of 105 mph. The ball struck Hernandez's right arm, then caromed to third baseman Brian Anderson, who threw over to first for the final out of the first inning.

Hernandez immediately fell down near the mound, as his teammates and the training staff went to check on him. He walked off on his own power, but he left the field with a trainer. Hernandez underwent testing and treatment for his arm, and he did not continue throwing or go through a workout.

"The pain was instant when you get hit, but five minutes later it just went away," Hernandez said via an interpreter.

Injuries have limited Hernandez over the past two seasons. He made just 11 starts in 2021, spending time on the 60-day injured list twice with right biceps inflammation and a right quad strain. During the pandemic-shortened '20 campaign, he started six times before suffering a strained right lat.

Entering Tuesday, the 26-year-old projected to be in Miami's rotation along with ace Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López, National League Rookie of the Year runner-up Trevor Rogers and Jesús Luzardo. A former Rule 5 Draft pick, Hernandez has an 89 ERA+ in 70 games (38 starts) since 2018.

Because of the early exit, Hernandez is only built up to 75 pitches or five innings. If cleared, he would return to the mound during his turn in the rotation. 

“We’ve just talked about last year, what kind of happened to him late," manager Don Mattingly said. "I came out. They said he was moving everything on it. He was OK. ... Hopefully we can keep the swelling out of there and he’s just ready to go.”

Miami does have starting-pitching depth in its system. Forty-man-roster options include left-handers Braxton Garrett and Daniel Castano, as well as right-handers Paul Campbell and Jordan Holloway. All but Castano had been optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville. Top 100 prospects Edward Cabrera (No. 34) and Sixto Sánchez (No. 58) are not ready. Cabrera is still being built up after a late start to camp, while Sánchez sustained a setback with his right shoulder.

Aguilar avoids arbitration
First baseman/designated hitter Jesús Aguilar signed a one-year contract with a mutual option for the 2023 season. According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the deal is worth $7.3 million in '22 with a $200K buyout for '23. With 550-plus plate appearances, the buyout goes up $50K. Aguilar was in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

The 31-year-old has been Miami's most consistent hitter since joining the club in 2020, knocking 30 homers and posting a 113 OPS+ across 182 games. Prior to a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 5, 2021, Aguilar was tied for second in the National League with 93 RBIs. 

Arbitration-eligible Marlins who have yet to agree to a contract for 2022 include catcher Jacob Stallings, infielder Joey Wendle and right-hander Pablo López.