Hernandez throws 35 pitches in bid to return

Updated: February 15, 2004, 4:57 PM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Orlando Hernandez worked out Thursday in front of scouts for about 20 major league teams, and the free-agent pitcher said he's nearing a full recovery from shoulder surgery.

El Duque, who missed all of last season, threw 35 pitches at the University of Miami.

"I'm not 100 percent, but by spring training I should be 100 percent," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "I'm at about 85 percent. I've been coming back quicker and quicker every day."

Hernandez wore a jersey bearing a New York Yankees logo and the words "Fremont Towing." He went 53-38 in five seasons with the Yankees before being traded to Montreal a year ago, and said he isn't looking to sign with any particular team.

"I just want to get back and get a job," the right-hander said. "If I was the owner of a team, I'd sign myself right away. But I'll just have to wait and see."

The Yankees had at least three representatives on hand, including vice president of major league scouting Damon Oppenheimer.

"He looks like he's in really good shape," Oppenheimer said. "He was a heck of a player for us. We have a lot of respect for him, so we wanted to make sure we were down here."

Hernandez said he has been working out twice a day six days a week in his adopted home of Miami. He began long-tossing last September and has been throwing off a mound for six weeks.

Hernandez felt shoulder pain following two spring training starts and had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder May 12.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press