Eastern League notebook

'El Duque' hoping to reunite with brother Livan in Washington

Orlando Hernandez is 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in five relief appearances. (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

By Stephanie Storm / Special to MLB.com | August 24, 2010 5:29 AM ET

The small visitor's clubhouse at Akron's Canal Park is a far cry from the locker rooms Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez is used to hanging out in.

For one, there's no chef. There's also no espresso maker and just one clubbie to handle the needs of 25 players and a coaching staff.

But these days, the four-time World Series champion goes everywhere his Double-A Harrisburg teammates go as they wrap up the final few weeks of the Eastern League regular season, having just moved into a tie for second place in the Western Division with a series sweep over the Aeros.

So why exactly is the 44-year-old Cuban native hanging out with the 67-60 Senators?

"I love baseball," the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Hernandez said, gesturing with his hand placed on his heart. "Baseball is like my family. And I feel strong and in good condition. I think I can [still] pitch in the Major Leagues. Also, this is a good chance to play with my brother on the same team."

The last time Orlando Hernandez and his half-brother -- current Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez -- were on the same Major League team was in 2003 with the Montreal Expos.

"But I had an injured shoulder all year," he said. "So I think God is giving me another chance [to play with Livan]. I thank the Washington Nationals organization for giving me another chance to come back."

When the news first broke that Hernandez was beginning a comeback, Livan Hernandez told ESPN: "He feels good. He's in better shape than anybody in baseball. He [threw] the ball well in the offseason in Venezuela, [getting] up to 93, 94 [mph]."

Orlando Hernandez began this comeback in the Gulf Coast League in July, where he went 1-0 in five relief innings, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on five hits before joining the Sens earlier this month.

Since then, he's been a terrific pitcher, going 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA in five appearances, as well as mentor, sharing baseball tips and personal triumphs with his much younger teammates.

"I try to talk to the young guys every day," said Hernandez, who picked up his first win Sunday against the Aeros after striking out four of the seven batters he faced in 2 1/3 innings. "I counsel them about my experience in the Major Leagues or even in Cuba, where I played a lot of baseball. It's a good group; they have a lot of respect."

Languishing in Double-A would probably be embarrassing for many former Major Leaguers trying to get to back to the bigs, let alone someone with Hernandez's credentials.

In addition to his famous pitching exploits with the Cuban National Team, Hernandez is 90-65 with a 4.13 ERA over his 10-year Major League career highlighted by suiting up for four World Series winners (three times with the Yankees, once with the White Sox).

But Hernandez isn't embarrassed at all.

"No, this is baseball," he said. "I signed late into the organization, and I have patience."

Hernandez was originally signed by the Yankees in March 1998 as a free agent after he defected from Cuba on Christmas Day in 1997, following in the footsteps of Livan, who'd done the same two years prior.

His best season came in 1999, when he went 17-9 and helped the New York Yankees win the World Series, the second of three with the team, while also being named the ALCS MVP.

His last full big league season came in 2007, when he went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 27 games, including 24 starts, with the New York Mets.

"Orlando's got great a work ethic, and he's in great shape for his age," Harrisburg manager Randy Knorr said. "He talks to the pitchers in the bullpen, and he helps the other pitchers. He's great not only for the Latin pitchers we have, but for all the guys. He doesn't ask for special privileges -- he's just like one of the guys."

In brief

Shut down: Portland RHP Casey Kelly was shut down last week for the remainder of the season with a lat injury. Kelly, who also played infield last year, was 3-5 with a 5.31 ERA in his first full season in the Minors as a pitcher this season. Kelly, the son of nine-year Major Leaguer Pat Kelly, was the Red Sox's top pick in the 2008 Draft out of Sarasota High School. Mike Hazen, Boston's director of player development, told the Portland Herald-Press that Kelly's injury was "nothing serious" and that he expected the 20-year-old to resume throwing in the Arizona Fall League.

Boone baffles: New Hampshire RHP Randy Boone retired the final 25 batters to lead the Fisher Cats to a 7-1 victory over New Britain on Friday. Boone (4-8, 3.83 ERA) went the distance, allowing only a run on two hits while striking out six and walking none. The performance, which marked Boone's longest this year, set a team high for the most batters retired consecutively by a New Hampshire pitcher this season.

Durham delivers: For the second time in a week, Altoona RF Miles Durham provided the game-winning hit for the Curve in extra innings. Durham's RBI single through the right side of the infield in the top of the 12th inning Friday was the difference in Altoona's 6-5 victory over host Binghamton. Durham delivered a walkoff homer in the 19th inning against New Hampshire on Aug. 13.

Stephanie Storm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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