Veteran Hernandez will vie for spot in rotation

Minor League deal comes with invite to big league camp

Veteran Hernandez will vie for spot in rotation

HOUSTON -- The Astros' search for another starting pitcher to bring to camp landed them right-hander Roberto Hernandez, who was signed to a Minor League deal Thursday with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Hernandez, 34, went 8-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 games (29 starts) combined with the Phillies and Dodgers last season. General manager Jeff Luhnow said the veteran will compete for a spot in the rotation with Dan Straily, Alex White, Asher Wojciechowski, Samuel Deduno and Jake Buchanan. Brad Peacock, coming off hip surgery, will be in the mix when he's healthy.

"Obviously, [Astros top pitching prospect Mark] Appel is going to be in camp as well and anything can happen, but it's a good group," Luhnow said. "Hernandez has the most experience of anybody in that group."

Hernandez began the year in the Phillies' rotation and made 23 appearances before being acquired by the Dodgers via trade on Aug. 7. Hernandez posted a 1.79 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio in 2014, which ranked 16th in the National League.

Hernandez's impressive debut

A nine-year Major League veteran, Hernandez has pitched in 248 games (206 starts) and owns a lifetime 4.60 ERA with the Indians (2006-12), Rays (2013), Phillies (2014) and Dodgers (2014).

"He's had a lot of experience in a lot of different settings, and I think it'll be important we have competition in the back end of our rotation and depth options, depending on what happens after Spring Training," Luhnow said. "He fits that well for us."

Hernandez, known as Fausto Carmona when he won 19 games for the Indians in 2007, was arrested in January 2012 outside the U.S. consulate for using a false identity and could not return to the United States until he obtained a visa.

He made the All-Star team with the Indians in 2010, when he went 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA in 33 starts. He went 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 32 starts in 2011 before he missed most of the 2012 season because of his legal troubles. He made three starts upon his return in '12, but an ankle injury derailed the rest of his season.

With the addition of Hernandez, the Astros now have 19 non-roster invitees, which gives them a total of 59 players (27 pitchers, 32 position players) at Major League camp, including a full 40-man roster. The report dates for Spring Training are Feb. 20 for pitchers and catchers, and Feb. 24 for position players.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.