Orlando Hernandez, who has been part of four World Series championship teams, agreed to a minor league contract Thursday with the Rangers. The right-hander is expected to join Triple-A Oklahoma City for workouts Sunday, and could start pitching for the RedHawks soon after that.
Hernandez last pitched in the major leagues for the New York Mets in 2007, then had surgery on the second toe of his right foot. The Rangers considered Hernandez during the offseason and have a scout in the Miami area that has watched him throw several times this spring.
"We like what we've seen. He's healthy. He's throwing the ball well. He's motivated to come back," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He's in great shape. ... I just don't know game shape. He has been throwing bullpens on his own."
Daniels called it a low-risk move that could provide experienced depth in the rotation or the bullpen. Texas starters Brandon McCarthy (stress fracture in shoulder) and Matt Harrison (left shoulder inflammation) are on the 15-day disabled list, and four other pitchers are on the 60-day DL.
Hernandez won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1998, 1999 and 2000, and with the White Sox in 2005. He was the 1999 ALCS MVP.
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"I am completely pumped about it. If you ask any player that's been around a while your first reaction to El Duque is unbelievable competitor. He flat-out gets after it," Michael Young said. "I can't wait. I have a very high opinion of the guy."
While the pitcher's age has been questioned at times, and is listed as high as 43 by some accounts, Daniels said Hernandez is 39.
Daniels said there is no definite schedule for when Hernandez might get a chance to pitch for the Rangers.
"That will be dictated primarily how he's doing throwing the ball in Oklahoma and what our needs are," Daniels said. "He has an excellent track record in the regular season. He knows how to pitch and can throw strikes with multiple pitches from multiple arm slots."