The Nationals have signed veteran right-hander Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez to a minor-league contract, according to two club sources.
Hernandez, the 44-year-old half-brother of Nats starter Livan Hernandez, will report to the organization's spring complex in Viera, Fla., to begin working out. He may wind up pitching at Class AAA Syracuse at some point this season.
A prize Cuban refugee who signed with the Yankees in 1998 and went on to post a 90-65 record and 4.13 ERA in nine seasons with four different teams, Hernandez has not pitched in the major leagues since 2007, when he went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA for the Mets. He underwent foot surgery that offseason and then required toe surgery the following year. He wound up pitching eight games in relief for the Rangers' Class AAA club last summer but was released after Texas officials determined he wouldn't be promoted.
The Hernandez half-brothers briefly were teammates in Montreal during the spring of 2003, but Orlando tore his rotator cuff before ever throwing a pitch for the Expos. Livan is currently enjoying a nice bounce-back season with the Nationals; after tossing seven innings of one-run ball against the Mets last night, he's now 6-4 with a 2.98 ERA.