He joined the Phillies in December as a Rule 5 Draft pick, a 24-year-old right-hander from Panama City, Fla., who had never pitched higher than Double-A. But after injuries to Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero and an impressive 1.42 ERA in 10 Spring Training appearances, Herndon learned Saturday he had earned a spot on the Phillies' Opening Day roster.
"I'm pumped up," Herndon said in the visitor's clubhouse after Sunday's team workout. "This is an absolute dream come true. You can't ask for anything more, really. Breaking into the big leagues, I'm super excited. I'm nervous excited. I'm anxious excited. I'm ready to get going tomorrow and see what Opening Day is like."
Superscout Charley Kerfeld and pro scout Sonny Bowers saw Herndon pitch last year for Double-A Arkansas. Pro scout Jon Mercurio saw him pitch in the Dominican Republic during Winter Ball. And Phillies rehab pitching coach Carlos Arroyo coached Herndon in Winter Ball. They all recommended him to the Phillies.
But Herndon garnered little attention when Philadelphia selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies had selected pitchers in recent Rule 5 Drafts -- Chris Booker, Travis Blackley, Bobby Mosebach, Lincoln Holdzkom and Jim Ed Warden -- and none had made the team. Herndon, who must remain on the 25-man roster the entire season or be offered back to the Los Angeles Angels, figured to be in the same spot as those pitchers: He needed to pitch really well and still catch a few breaks to make the team.
|Projected Opening Day lineup|
"He pitched well, threw strikes," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He was efficient with his work. At least during the spring, he proved to us that he's going to go after people and throw strikes. Now we'll see how he does during the course of the season, but he has certainly earned this opportunity."
He also caught some breaks. The Phillies hope to have Lidge and Romero back before the end of the month. The team will have roster decisions to make at that point.
But the Phils have been concerned enough about their bullpen and pitching depth that they had been looking around, hoping to add a piece before the season opener.
They never came close, Amaro said.
"There's very little talent," he said.
Less than 24 hours before Roy Halladay makes his Phillies debut, Amaro talked about the club's Opening Day roster.
"We're pretty happy with it, but you're never really satisfied," he said. "Clearly, we wish we had all 12 cylinders working. But that's part of the process. We talk about health all the time. Generally, we're pretty fortunate with our health. We have been over the last several years. That's one of the key factors for some of the success we've had. We'd like to get our guys back and performing at this level as soon as we can, if possible.
"Pitching is always a question. That's perennially the question: how your pitching is going to hold up. How your health is going to be. How guys are going to throw in the 'pen. How guys are going to throw in the rotation. We'll see how it goes."
The Phillies will carry 12 pitchers on their roster: Halladay, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Jamie Moyer, Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Herndon, Antonio Bastardo and Andrew Carpenter.
They will carry catchers Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider; infielders Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Juan Castro, Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload; and outfielders Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Ben Francisco.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.