By Tom Hoffarth, Staff Writer
Aaron Harang doesn’t have to be the red herring in the pitching-deep Dodgers’ starting rotation plans any more. Now, the veteran right-hander might be more concerned if anyone wants him anymore.
The Dodgers alleviated confusion by trading Harang, along with $4.25 million to help pay his salary, to the Colorado Rockies on Saturday morning in exchange for one-time All-Star catcher Ramon Hernandez.
But the Rockies have no plans to keep Harang, making $7 million this season. He was immediately designated for assignment, giving the team 10 days to either trade or release him.
Hernandez, making $3.2 million, was expected to arrive in L.A. on Saturday night and joint the Dodgers today, giving them three catchers on the roster for the time being.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he will go according to plan and start rookie backup Tim Federowicz in the series finale this afternoon against Pittsburgh, giving starter A.J. Ellis the day off.
In Hernandez, the Dodgers get someone with 15 years of big-league experience, an All-Star with Oakland in 2003 and a career .264 hitter. Hernandez’s best seasons were with the A’s when he caught a staff that included Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson from 2000-’03.
Hernandez, who turns 37 in May, has played in the divisional series playoffs with Cincinnati (2010) and San Diego (2005). During the 2006 season in Baltimore, Hernandez played in 144 games with 23 home runs and 91 RBI.
Still, the Venezuelan was the No. 3 catcher on Colorado’s roster this season behind Wilin Rosario and Yorvit Torrealba, playing in just 52 games last year (.217, 5 HRs) with various injury issues. He also has minimal experience playing first base.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Hernandez’s experience and leadership are his strengths at this point in his career “and he will be a great resource for A.J.”
Harang, whose major contributions to Dodgers late-inning victories last year was strategically firing a Super Soaker full of water from the dugout to drench that night’s hero, had been wandering aimlessly in the bullpen this spring and first week of the season.
The San Diego native made 31 starts last year, going 10-10 with 3.61 ERA in 31 starts. He was 1-2 in five games during spring training – all of them starts – and sporting an 8.20 ERA.
Once the Dodgers added free-agents Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to the rotation, Harang’s job security was at stake, as well as prevous starters Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly.
Lilly has been on the disabled list since Opening Day trying to come back during rehab assignments in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, but appears to be a ways off.
Mattingly has said Capuano, who started 33 games last year and was good enough in the first half of the season to be considered an All-Star candidate, has been able to adapt easier to a bullpen assignment than Harang, who in 299 games in his 11-year career only pitched in relief six times.
Mattingly said the 34-year-old Harang who played for four teams “was one guy who I really couldn’t figure out how to use. He knows the business side and at the end of the day this will give him a chance to pitch somewhere, and it helps us.”