Prospect Hernandez called up to Majors

Prospect Hernandez called up to Majors

DETROIT -- Gorkys Hernandez got the call at 2:30 in the morning. The young outfielder's next call figured to come a little later -- sometime in the seventh inning.

A 24-year-old Venezuelan two months into his eighth Minor League season, Hernandez was awakened in the wee hours of Friday by the cell phone ringing on the pillow next to him.

Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor: "Are you ready?"

Hernandez: "For what?"

Treanor: "You're going to the big leagues."

The Pirates, who had been carrying eight relief pitchers that limited their bench to four position reserves, were expected to tweak those numbers for this weekend's Interleague Series against the Tigers. But no one could foresee Hernandez being the reinforcement, including the man himself, until righty Evan Meek was optioned back to the Indians.

"I was surprised, and really, really excited," Hernandez said during the first few minutes of his life in a Major League clubhouse.

At Indianapolis, where he'd also spent all of 2011, Hernandez was batting .266, with an on-base percentage of .343. But his legs and his glove have always been his trademarks.

"He's worked his way to the best spot offensively since he's been in Triple-A," said Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle. "He's worked hard at being more consistent in his approach. And he's as good defensively as we have in the Minor League system.

"One of his dreams has come to fruition. It's always cool when you welcome a player to the big leagues for the first time."

As are most Pittsburgh outfield prospects, Hernandez was developed as a center fielder. But he has seen the majority of action this season in left. Preparing him for a utility role with the Pirates, he significantly made his first appearance in right a few hours before his callup.

"At first, when you're used to playing one position [center], it's really hard switching," Hernandez said. "Center is more comfortable, you see everything. But right now, I'm comfortable in left field, too."