Hernandez surprised by release from Astros

Livan Hernandez told MLB.com on Friday he was surprised by the Astros decision to release him. The veteran right-hander signed with Houston on Jan. 31 and appeared to have a great shot of landing a rotation spot before struggling in the spring.

“Yeah, it was surprising,” he said. “It’s a business and it’s baseball. I was very surprised when this happened. It’s tough to pitch like that, too. It’s the decision they made and I’m very happy for the chance. There’s a lot of good people in the organization, a lot of good young players and great people. Everyone in the organization is very professional.”

The two-time All-Star made five starts for the Astros during Spring Training, going 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 16 innings. In his 16-year career, the durable Hernandez has led the league in innings pitched three times and in games started twice. He’s never been on the disabled list.

Hernandez said he would like to keep playing.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “There’s 30 teams in the league. I’m 37 years old and I don’t want to retire. I never have been hurt in my career, so why do I have to retire if I feel good?”

With Hernandez out of the mix, the Astros now have three young pitchers battling for the final two spots in the rotation – Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland and Lucas Harrell, who pitched five strong innings earlier this week to bolster his chances.

The Astros have 33 players left in camp, including Sergio Escalona (who will miss the whole season after undergoing Tommy John surgery):

Here are the players in Astros camp (non-roster players in italics):

Pitchers –Fernando Abad (LHP), David Carpenter, Rhiner Cruz, Sergio Escalona (LHP), J.A. Happ (LHP), Lucas Harrell, Wilton Lopez, Jordan Lyles, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Bud Norris, Fernando Rodriguez, Wandy Rodriguez (LHP), Henry Sosa, Kyle Weiland, Wesley Wright (LHP).

Catchers — Jason Castro, Carlos Corporan, Landon Powell, Chris Snyder.

Infielders — Jose Altuve, Matt Downs, Marwin Gonzalez, Chris Johnson, Carlos Lee, Jed Lowrie, Brett Wallace.

Outfielders — Brian Bogusevic, Travis Buck, J.D. Martinez, Justin Ruggiano, Jordan Schafer, J.B. Shuck.

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