ATLANTA -- With Mike Minor and Randall Delgado pitching better than they were two weeks ago, the Braves did not have a tough time deciding to reverse course by bringing Kris Medlen back to Atlanta to serve as a reliever. But, from an emotional standpoint, it was tough for them to bring him back at the expense of Livan Hernandez.
The Braves announced Friday afternoon that Hernandez had been designated for assignment to make room for Medlen's return from Triple-A Gwinnett. If Hernandez is not traded or claimed by another team within the next 10 days, he could accept an assignment to Gwinnett or elect to become a free agent.
"The guy has been around forever and he has been great for us," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But it just didn't make sense, the way our bullpen situation is right now, to be carrying a third long man."
Gonzalez and Braves general manager Frank Wren's relationship with Hernandez dates back to 1996, when the pitcher defected from Cuba and joined the Marlins. Wren helped lure Hernandez to the organization and Gonzalez served as one of his first managers.
While both would have liked to keep Hernandez around, the pitcher created some concern while allowing nine earned runs in the 4 2/3 innings he threw in his past two appearances. The decision to part ways with the 37-year-old right-hander was aided by the belief that Cristhian Martinez will be better suited to serve in the long relief role rather than a middle relief role.
"We're going to miss him as far as [being a mentor] to some of the other guys," Gonzalez said of Hernandez, who posted a 4.94 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .366 on-base percentage against him in 18 appearances this year.
Hernandez, who signed with the Braves after being released by the Astros in March, does not plan to retire. He had never previously worked as a reliever before signing with Atlanta.