Hernandez changes mind day after surgery remarks
WASHINGTON -- Once he calmed down, Livan Hernandez wanted to make a few things clear Thursday: He won't have knee surgery until after the season, he will keep taking the mound every five days, even in pain, and he would never quit on his club.
A day after saying during a rambling postgame interview session that he was thinking about having an operation, the Washington Nationals' ace unleashed a profanity-laced tirade at reporters in the RFK Stadium home clubhouse before Thursday night's game against Houston.
The gist of his several-minute outburst Thursday was that his comments about being "99.9 percent" sure he might have season-ending surgery and "I'm done, I think" after Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the NL-worst Colorado Rockies came in the heat of the moment and weren't reported accurately.
Minutes later, he sat on a stool in front of his corner locker to explain himself.
"You don't know how I feel last night. You don't know I got a bad leg. You don't know I don't sleep last night because my knee hurt. That was the problem," Hernandez said Thursday.
"I'm pitching with my knee more than 17 starts like that. I never quit. Somebody else maybe quit. But not me," he added. "I'm going to make every start now. I don't got no problem. I feel, last night, not good. ... My knee looked like it want to explode last night."
He said he plans to have surgery after the season, "because I want to feel right next year."
The All-Star right-hander, 12-4 with a 3.44 ERA, is the unquestioned No. 1 pitcher in the NL East leader's rotation, eating up innings and keeping the team in nearly every game he's on the mound. But he's been bothered most of the season by a balky right knee, which was drained May 16 after an MRI. Still, he hasn't missed a turn, and in one stretch won 11 straight decisions.
"I feel good today. Not 100 percent, but I feel much better, and I'm not going to miss a start," Hernandez said.
"Everybody in the clubhouse knows me very well," he said later. "And everybody knows that I go on the mound every five days with my knee. ... I'm not the kind of guy [who is] going to complain too much."
General manager Jim Bowden and manager Frank Robinson both chalked up Hernandez's comments Wednesday to a player being disappointed by a loss and, more generally, the club's recent poor play. Washington has lost seven of nine.
"I talked to him. He feels good today. The knee feels good. And I don't see any reason why he's not going to be out there every fifth day till the end, no matter what happens to the knee," Bowden said.
"When you're going through losing streaks like we're going through right now, and some tough times, we all get frustrated and it comes out different ways."
Speaking before Hernandez arrived at the ballpark, Robinson said he hadn't talked to his pitcher about it and didn't necessarily plan to.
"He was a little frustrated, a little upset. It probably all kind of came out," Robinson said.
"We're all human beings. We're not going to be perfect for 162 games out of a season. We all have to let off a little steam when we're frustrated. And we're all a little frustrated right now by the way we're playing."
On Wednesday against Colorado, Hernandez tied a modern major-league record by hitting four batters, and he allowed a two-run homer in the sixth inning to let a lead slip away. It was the first time in 2005 that he's lost consecutive decisions.
"Hey, it's not the last game I'm going to lose. It's not the problem," he said. "The problem is that I don't feel good."
Bowden hopes the whole episode is done with.
"The guy's a gamer and a winner, period," Bowden said. "To me, that chapter is behind us. Let's shut it and go forward."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press