Opening day hero Hernandez out of Reds' lineup

BY foxsports • April 2, 2011

The deluge of text messages and phone calls started shortly after Ramon Hernandez's dramatic homer cleared the wall.

The Reds catcher received congratulations from family in Venezuela and friends all around on his two-out, three-run homer in the ninth inning that gave Cincinnati a 7-6 win over Milwaukee on Friday. It was only the second game-winning homer on opening day in Reds history.

''Opening day is something special,'' Hernandez said. ''After you play a lot and you have an opportunity to do something like that, you never know if it's going to happen again ever.''

One game later, Hernandez was watching from the bench.

Manager Dusty Baker is staying with the same plan at catcher that worked well last season, when Cincinnati won the NL Central. Ryan Hanigan was in the lineup against the Brewers for the second game of their series on Saturday night.

Hernandez caught a team-high 85 games last season, sharing time with Hanigan and Corky Miller. Reds catchers led the NL with 168 hits and a .296 batting average last season.

Hanigan usually catches when Bronson Arroyo pitches. Baker plans to decide his catcher for the other games based in part upon who needs a rest and how much success they've had against the opposing pitcher.

''Ryan's a great player, man,'' Hernandez said. ''He's helped this team win a lot of games. He deserves his playing time. With what he's doing now, he's won his playing time.''

It was a big day all-around for Hernandez. The homer was his fourth hit, making him only the fifth Reds player since 1900 to have four hits on opening day. He joined catcher Bubbles Hargrave (1924), outfielder Babe Herman (1936), outfielder Jim Greengrass (1954) and outfielder Paul O'Neill (1989).

There were questions about whether Hernandez would be able to hit very well at the start of the season. He was sidelined for a week late in spring training because of a sore throwing elbow.

''After that, I felt fine,'' he said. ''You can't think about, 'I don't have many at-bats.' I came out feeling ready to go. In my mind, I was prepared. You just forget about spring training. You start fresh.''

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