CINCINNATI -- Following a rough 2008 season in Baltimore, catcher Ramon Hernandez regarded news of his trade to the Reds only as a positive. "It's a new start, a new team, a new division," Hernandez said on Saturday. "So I'm very happy and very excited. It's a new start for everything." On Tuesday, Hernandez was acquired from the Orioles for infielder/outfielder Ryan Freel and Minor League infielders Justin Turner and Brandon Waring. Cincinnati also received around $2 million in cash to offset Hernandez's $8 million salary for 2009.
Hernandez put on a No. 55 Reds jersey for the first time and met many of his new teammates on Saturday during Redsfest at the Duke Energy Convention Center. He contacted No. 55's previous owner, third-base coach Mark Berry, before taking over the number he had worn for his previous teams. A 10-year veteran, Hernandez's career began with the A's in 1999, and he caught a pitching staff that featured Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. During his time with the Padres from 2004-05, Hernandez caught Jake Peavy. In Cincinnati, the 32-year-old Hernandez will likely catch young starters Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. "It's going to be a lot of fun. They pitched last year and got more experience," Hernandez said. "It's all about good communication and getting stuff done -- what they like to do and not like. Communication sets up everything." Hernandez, an All-Star with the A's in 2003, also knew veteran starter Aaron Harang when he was still an up-and-coming starter in Oakland. Last season, Hernandez batted .257 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs in 133 games. He is a lifetime .263 hitter. Solid defense was always part of his resume, until last year when had only a 20 percent rate of throwing out basestealers. He also committed nine errors and allowed 10 passed balls. The word around the league was that Hernandez was frustrated with losing in Baltimore and that it affected his play. Hernandez didn't deny it, but said he always gave 100 percent. "When you're used to competing and you get to June and you're already out of competition, you go to the stadium and there's nothing to fight for anymore," Hernandez said. "Everything gets worse and worse and never gets better all year long. It's kind of frustrating. It makes you sad. But I was trying my best all the time. I was trying very, very hard. Everything I did over there was my best. It didn't work out, but at least I can't come out with my head down, because I know I tried my hardest." Hernandez likes to be in the lineup every day and has caught 135 or more games in five of his 10 seasons. He has every expectation to catch as much with the Reds in 2009. "When you sit down, you miss something," Hernandez said. "Maybe the day you're sitting down is the game you might get a hit that wins the game or a home run that puts your team ahead. If you want to be a part of something, you have to be competing. The only way to be competing is when you're playing."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.