Hernandez hopes HR ignites his bat

Phillies infielder hit first long ball in over a year against Brewers

Hernandez hopes HR ignites his bat

PHILADELPHIA -- One year ago Saturday, Cesar Hernandez might still have been celebrating the last home run he hit.

It came on May 30, 2015 -- a shot to right. Five hundred and one at-bats later, Hernandez lined a 3-1 slider from the Brewers' Junior Guerra right over the 401 sign in center field in the second inning of the Phillies' 6-3 loss.

"Boy, I couldn't believe Cesar hit that homer to dead center," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

"He said he was going to faint," Hernandez said, through a translator, of Mackanin.

Hernandez's 3-for-4 effort on Saturday was him reaping the rewards of hard work before the first pitch is thrown.

Entering Saturday's game, Hernandez's average was at its lowest point since April 22. It had fallen to .244 as he'd been mired in a May-long slump. Since May began, Hernandez has hit .222 with only four extra-base hits.

"A .250 singles hitter is not what you are," Mackanin told Hernandez. "You're a better hitter than that."

"I didn't mean for him to hit a home run to dead center," Mackanin said. "But I was glad to see it."

Hernandez had been working on being more selective and getting on top of the ball when he did make contact. Mackanin didn't complain about Hernandez getting under the ball he hit over the center-field fence, though.

"I don't want to see him start trying to hit home runs," Mackanin said. "But it was good to see him get three hits."

Mackanin told Hernandez he needed to get better at identifying strikes. Mackanin also said he needed to do better with two strikes. When faced with a two-strike count this season, Hernandez is hitting .145, with an OPS of just .397.

Hernandez twice found himself in hitters' counts on Saturday, working 3-1 counts before his home run and his ninth-inning single.

"Things were not working well for me," Hernandez said. "But I've been trying really hard, and that's my approach. I just want to get better."

Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.