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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Hernandez's curious status is bad timing for Nationals
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published July 24, 2005
Welcome to the strange story of Livan Hernandez.
The Nationals' best pitcher, who at 12-4 is a Cy Young candidate, said after Wednesday's loss he was "99.9 percent" certain he would have season-ending surgery on his aching right knee. He also said he had an unspecified grievance against an unspecified party within the team.
The next day Hernandez railed at Washington reporters that his comments were - what else? - taken out of context and he would keep pitching.
"I never quit," Hernandez yelled. "Never. For eight years I pitch every day. And everybody knows. Every day, hurt. They say, "Livan is a quitter. Livan is going to quit.' I go pitch."
Hernandez's bizarre situation couldn't come at a worse time for the Nats who, entering Saturday, had lost four consecutive series and 12 of 16 games to fall into a tie for first in the NL East with the Braves.
Hernandez on Thursday tried to clarify his "99.9 percent" remark.
"When I ran to first base (Wednesday), I felt something that I didn't before," he said. "So I said maybe when I wake up in the morning, 99.9 percent, I need surgery, maybe."
As for the beef he has with someone in the organization, Hernandez was mum. But the Washington Post reported it could concern the team's decision Wednesday to dump Hernandez's friend, Wil Cordero, and that Hernandez, after being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, believes manager Frank Robinson has a quick hook.
Said Robinson: "I don't know what's bothering him."
NO WONDER: Want to know why the Rangers want to unload Alfonso Soriano, who entering Saturday was batting a respectable .283 with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs? The second baseman has, according to the Dallas Morning News, stopped running out some balls.
Soriano jogged to first on a grounder July 15 at Oakland, and Monday against the Yankees stood at home plate admiring a single.
"It's embarrassing," Soriano said. "I apologize to everybody."
MAYBE, A PROBLEM: Perhaps the biggest reason the White Sox have had so much success is their lack of injuries. The only major setbacks have been Frank Thomas' injuries.
But some cracks are starting to show. The team acknowledged it is worried about reliever Dustin Hermanson's lower back, and that third baseman Joe Crede is playing with two herniated discs.
The more problematic situation is Hermanson's. The right-hander, entering Saturday, had converted 22 of 23 save chances and had a 1.95 ERA. But he has pitched just three times since July 5. The Chicago Tribune reported an MRI test revealed no damage, but recurring spasms have Chicago wondering about Hermanson's availability in October.
"I don't know how much I can use him," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
That, of course, has led to trade speculation, with the Rays' Danys Baez and Toronto's Miguel Batista being mentioned most.
IT'S SHOW TIME: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had a few choice words for home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who on Monday tossed Gardenhire for arguing balls and strikes.
Here's the cleaned-up version that appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
"He bounced me from the dugout. The pitch was high. That's all I said and he threw me out of the ballgame. And then he tells me all I wanted was show time. He can kiss (bleep). ... He tells me I wanted show time. That was very unprofessional. What he ought to do is get knocked on his (bleep).
"I expect more than that from a major-league umpire, especially from a guy who comes from a baseball family. His father (Harry) was a great umpire, but I have no respect for Hunter anymore. ... He says I want show time, and I'm the one who gets fined. Why don't umpires get fined?"
EPILOGUE: Gardenhire, suspended one game, apologized the next day to Wendelstedt, who seemed to brush off the incident.
"Gardy is a fiery guy, a colorful guy, a great guy," Wendelstedt told some Minnesota reporters. "He was doing his job, standing up for his player. That's part of the fun of baseball. To me, it goes away and we start again tomorrow."
ETC.: If Tigers reliever Troy Percival has to call it quits because of elbow problems, the last pitch he threw was the one Tampa Bay's Jonny Gomes blasted for a game-winning home run on July 9. ... The Marlins could be in for a big shakeup if they want to keep next season's payroll in the $65-million range. Trading pitcher A.J. Burnett and third baseman Mike Lowell would save a combined $17-million, and dumping players such as Juan Encarnacion, Jeff Conine and Ismael Valdez would save another $8.5-million. ... Reds pitcher Brandon Claussen after giving up five home runs to the Cubs: "I feel like Gallagher throwing watermelons." ... Rumor is the Phillies are shopping nonslugging slugger Jim Thome. But the first baseman, .207 with seven home runs, hasn't played since June 30 because of a sore elbow and has a no-trade clause.