Chicago is hoping the right-hander can live up to that image in his White Sox debut and spoil the Minnesota Twins’ home opener as the AL Central rivals begin a three-game series at the Metrodome.
Signed to a two-year, $8 million deal this past offseason, El Duque posted a 61-40 record with a 3.96 ERA in six seasons with the Yankees. Hernandez was even better in the postseason, going 9-3 with a 2.65 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 17 playoff appearances.
Hernandez has been slowed by a shoulder injury the last two years. He missed the 2003 season after having surgery that May to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. Hernandez returned to New York last season and won his first eight decisions.
He lost his final two regular season outings and missed the AL division series due to a tired shoulder, but pitched well in a Game 4 start against Boston in the ALCS, going five innings and allowing three runs in a 6-4, 12-inning loss.
Hernandez finished the year 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 15 starts. He limited opponents to a .230 average, limiting right-handed hitters to a .194 mark.
After winning their first two games, the White Sox blew a five-run lead in Thursday’s 11-5, 11-inning defeat to Cleveland.
“I’m sick to my stomach right now, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
“Whenever I come in against these guys, I can tell they really want to hit off me,” Takatsu said through a translator.
Takatsu had 19 saves last year, blowing just one.
The division rivalry between Minnesota and Chicago has taken a new twist now that former Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski is playing for the White Sox.
“I’m looking forward to the whole season,” he said. “It’s another game. I’ve played a lot of games at that place. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends.”
The Twins took two of three from Seattle to open the season, including Wednesday’s 4-1 win.