Outfielder spent offseason in Arizona preparing for fight to win roster spot
By Jesse Sanchez
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This isn't Gorkys Hernandez's last chance to establish himself as part of a big league club, it's only his next one.
But the 29-year-old outfielder believes he's sacrificed enough this offseason to make it his best opportunity yet.
"Thank God that I'm healthy and I've worked very hard to prepare for this year," Hernandez said in Spanish. "I'm just trying to do the work necessary to make this team."
Exactly how the outfielder fits on the big league roster is to be determined. If Jarrett Parker wins the left-field job, there's a chance Justin Ruggiano, Chris Marrero or Michael Morse could be the fourth outfielder and Mac Williamson goes to Triple-A. Hernandez could also see lots of action as a defensive replacement -- this year's version of Gregor Blanco -- and a right-handed bat regardless of how the outfield situation plays out.
Last season, Hernandez hit .302/.382/.421 in 116 games at Triple-A Sacramento. He had a .259 batting average with two home runs and four RBIs in 26 games with the Giants.
"I'm really grateful for the things that have happened in my career to this point," said Hernandez, who signed as an international free agent in 2005. "I'm almost 30 and it's been a good one so far. I know I still have establish myself in the Major Leagues and I feel like this is my time to do it."
Hernandez, who lives 15 minutes north of the Giants' Spring Training facility in Scottsdale, spent the entire offseason working out on the club's Minor League fields. He was born and raised in Venezuela, but he said going back home was not an option this year.
"Unfortunately, I couldn't go back to Venezuela because of the political and economic situation there and it's not something we ever expected to have to deal with," he said. "But for me, for my family's future and my career, it was best for me to stay here in the United States. My wife and kids didn't want to go back, but we will go back when it's time and it's safe."
Hernandez entered Tuesday's game against the Padres hitless in his first five at-bats of Cactus League play. He finished 0-for-3 in the 9-5 loss and almost made a great catch in deep center field in the second inning on a wind-aided ball hit off the bat of Padres left fielder Jose Pirela.
"He has to do what he did last year," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He hasn't gotten it going with the bat but it's so early. He's doing well."
Hernandez has shown a good glove in the past. He has played 84 big league games with the Pirates, Marlins and Giants since 2012 without an error. He has made 51 career appearances in center field in the big leagues and started 42 times there.
"My family is in Venezuela doing the best they can and we are in the United States doing the best we can here," he said. "I'm trying to win a job on the 25-man roster and I know there is nothing concrete here, but I'm hopeful. It makes me feel good knowing they know who I am."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.