Hernández with the Los Angeles Dodgers
May 20, 1976 |
|June 29, 1999, for the Oakland Athletics|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 12, 2013, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Runs batted in||757|
|Career highlights and awards|
|World Baseball Classic|
Ramón José Hernández Marin (Spanish pronunciation: [ra'mon er'nande?]; born May 20, 1976) is a Venezuelan former professional baseball catcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Oakland Athletics (1999-2003), San Diego Padres (2004-2005), Baltimore Orioles (2006-2008), Cincinnati Reds (2009-2011), Colorado Rockies (2012) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2013).
Hernández is a career .263 hitter with 144 home runs, 651 RBI, and 455 runs scored in 1,132 games throughout his 15 seasons with the Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, and Baltimore Orioles. Hernández played in Venezuela for los Bravos de Margarita.
With experience, Hernández became known as a catcher who could solidly hit, mentor young pitchers and had steady defense. He earned praise for his defense and game-calling skills with a powerful pitching staff that included Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson.
In 2003, Hernández broke out with his best season, hitting .273 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI and made his first All-Star Game. His most memorable moment as an Athletic came in Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, Hernández bunted down the third base line, which scored Eric Chavez to win the game. After the season, Oakland traded him to the Padres, mainly for financial reasons. At the time of the deal, Hernández had caught at least 135 games each of the last four years.
In both 2004 and 2005, Hernandez battled injuries. In 2004, he missed four weeks mid-season after injuring his left knee in a collision at the plate. Upon his return, he batted .281 with 11 home runs with 38 RBI in the second part. He finished the 2004 season with a .276 batting average, 18 home runs, and 63 RBI.
In 2005, he suffered a wrist injury on June 17 while diving into first base during a game against the Twins. His jammed wrist forced him to the disabled list, causing him to miss 18 games. Hernández returned to the lineup on July 7, but the condition worsened and he decided to have surgery to repair the torn cartilage. The surgery forced Hernández to the DL for the third time in two seasons, and he missed the entire month of August. He rejoined the team in time for the September stretch run, and was pivotal in the Padres' run to the National League West championship. Hernández hit .359 in September with five home runs, and drove in 20 runs in just 22 games. He came up with several clutch hits, including two dramatic game-winning home runs: a three-run walk-off shot against Washington in the 12th inning on September 17, and a grand slam against division rival San Francisco just 10 days later. He finished the season with a .290 average and 12 home runs, and became one of baseball's more coveted players in the winter's free agent market.
Before the 2006 season, Hernández signed a $27.5 million, four-year contract to play for the Baltimore Orioles. The contract includes a team option for the 2010 season as well. In his introductory press conference, Hernández spoke excitedly about working with a young pitching staff, hitting in Camden Yards and helping the team become a contender. He also expressed optimism about spending the next four years with Miguel Tejada as a teammate (Tejada was traded to the Astros before the 2008 season). Hernández and Tejada played in Oakland for almost five years, and they are godfathers to each other's children. Hernández would compile a respectable .275 batting average in 2006 with 23 home runs and 91 RBI. Veterans Chris Widger and Danny Ardoin served as Hernández's backups throughout the season.
Hernández was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Ryan Freel and minor leaguers Justin Turner and Brandon Waring on December 9, 2008. Following the season, the Reds signed Hernandez to a one-year, $3 million contract.
On March 28, 2013, towards the end of spring training, the Rockies designated Hernández for assignment.
On April 6, 2013, the Rockies traded Hernández to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Aaron Harang. In 17 games as the Dodgers backup catcher, he hit .208 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI. He was designated for assignment on June 14, and released on June 22.
Hernández was released on July 9 after playing in 5 games for the Bisons and hitting .105 (2 hits in 19 at-bats).
Hernández signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring training with the Kansas City Royals on January 7, 2014. He opted out of his deal on March 23 and became a free agent.