Ramon Hernandez took ground balls at first base today along with Aubrey Huff. Dave Trembley said we could see Ramon play first again before the season is over. Hernandez made one appearance at first back on September 2nd in Boston as a late inning replacement for Kevin Millar.
Clearly, the manager is trying to get a gauge on possibilities for next year.
The extra infield practice might be foreshadowing changes we could see in 2009. There could be a log jam at the catcher position, and Hernandez might be the odd man out defensively.
According to Oriole scouts, 2007 first-round draft pick Matt Wieters could realistically be ready to break with the big club after Spring Training next year. He is obviously the Orioles catcher of the future, and every effort will be made to give him the job if he proves he's ready.
Hernandez has a year left on the four year deal he signed with the Orioles back in December of 2005. Many believe the Orioles will try to trade Ramon in the offseason, but finding takers could be difficult considering his big contract and questionable defense behind the plate.
If Hernandez stays an Oriole, the club will most likely want him in the lineup based on the large salary due him and his offensive numbers this year with runners in scoring position. Ramon's .337 average with men on base is second on the team only to Melvin Mora, who was red hot before getting hurt over a week ago.
Hypothetically, Ramon could platoon at first base and designated hitter in 2009 along with Aubrey Huff; plus he could catch one or two days a week to spell Wieters.
Kevin Millar is a free agent after this season, so the above scenario is based on the assumption Millar will not be on the roster.