Hernandez returns to mound in Minors game

Righty feels good pitching for first time since March 1

Hernandez returns to mound in Minors game

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies plan to have David Hernandez pitching in the back of their bullpen this season, either as a closer or a setup man.

He needs to get healthy first. Hernandez, who had not pitched since March 1 because of right triceps tendinitis, threw one inning Tuesday afternoon in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex. He allowed three hits, three runs, one walk and struck out two against Triple-A players from Toronto.

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | More info

Hernandez threw 28 pitches (17 strikes), and his fastball hit 93 mph. Blue Jays prospect Rowdy Tellez, who is the No. 8 prospect in Toronto's system according to MLBPipeline.com, crushed a double off the top of the batter's eye in center field to score two runs.

"It's probably the best I've felt the last two weeks," Hernandez said. "Obviously, the results weren't what I wanted, but I'm just trying to get in and get out healthy, and I feel really good. We'll see how I bounce back tomorrow."

The Phillies signed Hernandez to a one-year, $3.9 million contract in the offseason, making him the only free agent they signed to a Major League contract. They are counting on him to stabilize the bullpen.

Hernandez said there is enough time to make that happen. After Tuesday, there were 14 Grapefruit League games remaining before the Phillies head north to play three more exhibition games. Hernandez said he can pitch enough innings in those games to improve his command, though he said appearing in back-to-back games will be a truer test of his readiness.

Hernandez said he still feels something in his elbow, but he said he is not concerned about it and that it is normal for somebody who has had Tommy John surgery.

"It's been mostly just post-throwing," Hernandez said. "It kind of gets tight on me, but during pitching and playing catch, it doesn't really bother me. It's just calming down, it gets cold on you and it just gets stiff. It's just part of getting back. When I threw my first game, I felt it while I was throwing, so now I don't feel it while I'm throwing. It's a good sign."

Worth noting

Right-hander Yoervis Medina had to leave Tuesday's 5-2 victory over the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla., in the ninth inning. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Medina felt a "pop" in his right elbow. The Phillies acquired Medina from Pittsburgh for Jesse Biddle.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.