The scene is one Livan Hernandez still remembers perfectly…even if it’s been over six years. There he was on his knees, looking skyward and pounding his chest with both fists just seconds after the Florida Marlins had wrapped up the 1997 World Championship. A major contributor to the Marlins’ title run, Hernandez deserved his share of the spotlight in posting four victories in the League Championship Series and World Series combined. Just 22 at the time, the Cuban-born right-hander became the youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series opener. His reward: World Series MVP. But Hernandez has experienced his share of bumps in the road, posting just two winning seasons since 1998. He’s been questioned over the years for his inability to work out of trouble and stay in shape. Last season marked a strong rebound season, though, as Hernandez finished 8th in the majors in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) among all pitchers. On Tuesday he returns to Pro Player Stadium to handle Opening-Day duties against the Marlins. Montreal’s staff ace recently discussed his assignment in Miami, his World Series success and his career in Cuba, among other topics of conversation, with Baseball Prospectus.
Rarely is Miguel Tejada unaccounted for in the Baltimore Orioles’ clubhouse. Tejada isn’t afraid to make his own fashion statement–even if it’s not approved–raise his voice a few decimals, or just chat away until his new teammates have heard enough. By his own admission Tejada relishes being the center of attention, and he’s certainly earned that right.
An undrafted free agent out of Bani, Dominican Republic, Tejada signed with the Oakland A’s in 1993 wth hopes of following in the steps of his childhood idol, Alfredo Griffin. Over a decade later Tejada is already considerd a member of baseball’s top-tier shortstops. But after validating his star-status by winning the 2002 American League MVP Award and being part of the A’s recent postseason run, Tejada, who signed a six-year, $72 million deal in the off-season, is ready to begin a new chapter in his career. BP recently interviewed Tejada about saying good-bye to Oakland, swinging the bat in hitter-friendly Camden Yards and patroling the same postion in Baltimore that for years belonged to Cal Ripken Jr..
Alex Rodriguez…Derek Jeter…Jose Reyes? Reyes no doubt trails the left side of the New York Yankees’ infield in matinee idol status, but it may not be long before the 20-year-old sets aside a slice of the Big Apple–if he hasn’t already. In a 69-game sampling of the big leagues last season Reyes batted .307 with 21 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases in just 274 at-bats. Reyes, who set a New York Mets rookie record in August with 39 hits, also flashed the leather by not committing an error in his last 35 games. The young Dominican made such an impression that he was mentioned as an early candidate for National League Rookie of the Year honors before missing the final month of the season with a left ankle sprain. Now, the potential All-Star returns for another go-round, with hopes of making Mets fans everywhere remember his name for years to come. Despite having to battle a strained right hamstring that could keep him out of the season opener, Reyes recently discussed his rapid climb through the minor leagues, playing in New York and what’s expected of him–among other topics–with Baseball Prospectus.