- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

The Washington Nationals acquired Anderson Hernandez last summer believing he could fill the organization’s long-term need at second base. Just shy of a year later, the Nationals gave up on that plan.

The Nationals traded Hernandez to the New York Mets on Thursday for Class A infielder Greg Veloz, a move that wasn’t terribly surprising given Hernandez’s drastic decrease in playing time in the past month.

Hernandez had started only two games since the All-Star break, handing over the job to Alberto Gonzalez and Ronnie Belliard. Used sparingly off the bench, he quickly became expendable and was sent back to the Mets (who traded him to Washington last August for reliever Luis Ayala).

“I don’t expect that,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think they’re going to trade me that quick back to New York.”

Hernandez impressed the Nationals with a .333 average in 28 games last season, but he hit only .251 this year while committing six errors.

“When I was with the Mets, I didn’t play every day,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity to play every day here. I enjoyed it.”

Veloz, 21, is a career .249 hitter in four minor league seasons and was rated the Mets’ 22nd-best prospect by Baseball America. He’ll report to Class A Potomac.

Needing some immediate bullpen help Thursday, the Nationals recalled right-hander Saul Rivera from Class AAA Syracuse. The veteran had a 3.55 ERA in 30 appearances with the Chiefs after a ragged stint early this season with Washington.

The Nationals plan to replace one of their eight relievers with a position player. Infielder Mike Morse, batting .322 at Syracuse, is a likely candidate for promotion.

Minor leaguers suspended

Two members of the Nationals’ Class AA Harrisburg roster were suspended 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines.

Outfielder Edgardo Baez and infielder Ofilio Castro were found in violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. They tasted positive for amphetamines, which the sport classifies as a performance-enhancing drug. The suspensions take place immediately, and since the minor league season ends in early September, they will carry over to 2010.

Neither player is considered among the Nationals’ top prospects, though Castro was hitting .296 with four homers and 36 RBI in 96 games. Baez was batting .254 with nine homers and 28 RBI in 101 games.

Extra bases

John Lannan and the Nationals have partnered to create “Lannan’s Cannons,” a community program that will provide game tickets to children and families staying at the Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. Lannan will host 25 guests at each remaining Sunday home game this season. …

Washington acquired Daryle Ward and Norris Hopper from the Chicago White Sox for cash considerations. The veterans will report to Syracuse, which was depleted of position players and needed a quick boost.

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