On Monday, Indians manager Manny Acta acknowledged that Cleveland has sent Hernandez -- formerly Fausto Carmona -- a detailed program to follow while he remains in the Dominican Republic. Hernandez was arrested on Jan. 19 on charges of using a false identity and is currently dealing with legal and visa obstacles to joining the Indians stateside as a result.
"I talk to him all the time," Acta said. "He's keeping himself in shape. That's his job. He's getting himself ready so that, if anything changes, he's going to come over here and not miss a beat. He's doing everything. Once things went down, that's one thing we addressed with him."
Acta said Hernandez has been throwing in bullpen sessions and simulated games over the past couple of weeks. The manager noted that the pitcher logged one inning of work against hitters at the team's academy in the Dominican Republic on Monday.
As things stand right now, the Indians' rotation projects to include Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. With Hernandez out of the picture for the time being, Cleveland is holding a spring competition for the fifth spot, with Kevin Slowey, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Zach McAllister in the running.
"We've got four slots taken already," Acta said, "and the posibility of Roberto joining us at some point. So we feel pretty good."
Last month, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, citing anonymous sources, reported that the Department of Homeland Security is expected to grant Hernandez a waiver to join the Indians at some point before camp breaks on April 2. It is possible that the starting pitcher might then face a suspension from Major League Baseball.
Acta would not comment on the possibility of having Hernandez back with the team before the end of Spring Training. Hernandez is currently on MLB's restricted list, so he is ineligible for pay and does not count against Cleveland's 40-man roster at the moment.
"We're optimistic that he's going to come," Acta said. "When? We don't know."