Hernandez opens Phillies' season with blast

Hernandez opens Phillies' season with blast

CINCINNATI -- That's not a bad way to start a season, huh?

Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez ripped a leadoff home run to right field in the top of the first inning in a 4-3 victory over the Reds on Opening Day at Great American Ball Park. It is just the second time in franchise history a Phillies player hit a leadoff home run to start a season.

"It's great," Hernandez said. "Everybody was happy because I hit a home run on Opening Day."

The Phillies' Heinie Mueller (birth name Emmett Jerome Mueller) hit a leadoff homer against Brooklyn's Van Mungo on April 19, 1938, at Baker Bowl. It was Mueller's first plate appearance in the big leagues.

"I have to tell you, nobody believed it," Freddy Galvis said with a smile, knowing his good friend Hernandez was within earshot.

"Hey!" Hernandez retorted.

"But it was good," Galvis said. "To start the season like that, it gives you some confidence. I think he's going to have a good year."

Hernandez had just eight homers in 1,330 plate appearances in the big leagues before he worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Reds right-hander Scott Feldman, hitting a 3-2 fastball over the right-field fence. The ball left Hernandez's bat at 102 mph and traveled a projected 377 feet, according to Statcast™.

"I'm hitting the ball a little harder than last year," Hernandez said.

Hernandez gained about 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason to maintain his strength over the six-month season. He is hoping to build upon a strong second half in 2016. Hernandez hit .248 with six doubles, four triples, two home runs, 16 RBIs and a .630 OPS in 245 plate appearances through June 20. He hit .327 with eight doubles, seven triples, four home runs, 23 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 377 plate appearances the rest of the season.

Perhaps Monday is a sign of more power to come from Hernandez?

"I don't know, man. I don't know," said Galvis, who hit a solo homer to right in the second. "I believe he will have a good year. This guy was working hard in the offseason. He really worked hard. He was taking it seriously, working every day. To see it start like that is pretty good."

"I tell you what," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We don't need power from the corners. We've got our power from the middle infielders. Cesar and Freddy, the two littlest guys on the field. It was good to see."

It was the fifth time in Reds history that they allowed a homer to the first batter of the season.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.