Hernandez set to throw first bullpen session

Hernandez set to throw first bullpen session

CHICAGO -- Reliever David Hernandez is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session Wednesday at the team's Spring Training complex in Sarasota, Fla., and he remains optimistic that he can rejoin the Orioles in early September.

Hernandez said in a text message that he's "almost pain-free," though he is expected to still experience some level of discomfort until the ankle is fully healthy in November.

Hernandez was placed on the 15-day disabled list after exiting Aug. 4's game with a Grade 2 left ankle sprain suffered while trying to cover home plate. An MRI reaffirmed the injury on his landing foot, and given the slow healing nature of that particular ligament, it was assumed that Hernandez would need longer than the minimum DL stay.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said last week he would be "real happy" to have Hernandez back on Sept. 1, and acknowledged that he probably wouldn't return until some point after that. Showalter also said at this point there hasn't been any talk of shutting down Hernandez for the rest of the season.

A converted starter, Hernandez had been one of the O's best late-inning options out of the bullpen. He pitched to a 3.29 ERA over 27 1/3 innings prior to the injury.