10/27/2003 12:29 PM ET
Hernandez on road to recovery
Pitcher will throw in Venezuelan Winter League
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Carlos Hernandez is going to play winter ball as part of his rehabilitation process. (Erik S. Lesser/AP)
HOUSTON -- Left-hander Carlos Hernandez completed his first test on his way to a comeback with a successful run in the Instructional League last week and is on his way to Winter Ball.
Hernandez, who had surgery last February to repair tears in his labrum and rotator cuff, made six starts in the Instructional League and threw 84 pitches in his final start last Thursday.
"His numbers weren't really great because we played bad defense behind him," assistant general manager Tim Purpura said. "But he pitched well, he only gave up one run. The big thing is it takes a little while to get comfortable out there after coming back from surgery, which his normal."
Hernandez will join the Magellanes club in Venezuela and will make his first start on Nov. 2. The Astros are hoping the 23-year-old can make a successful comeback and join the rotation in 2004. He is expected to be ready to compete for a starting job in Spring Training.
Other Astros who are expected to play winter ball include catchers Raul Chavez and John Buck. Octavio Dotel and Orlando Merced played last year and might again this winter, although they usually join their teams in December.
First base coach Jose Cruz will manage the Ponce club in Puerto Rico. That team begins play on Nov. 1.