Tuesday, June 3, 2008

After everything, Hernandez designated

MINNEAPOLIS -- Luis Hernandez's whirlwind tour through the favor of the Orioles organization appears to be over.

The 23-year-old infielder, who began the year as the Orioles' starting shortstop, was designated for assignment on Monday. In the last six months, Hernandez has gone from a prospect whose path to a starting position was blocked by Miguel Tejada, to the team's shortstop of the future after Tejada was traded to the Astros, to a utility player after being benched by manager Dave Trembley, to the waiver wire.

"In Luis' mind, he thinks he can be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues, and that's what you would want -- you want guys to think that," Trembley said. "Sometimes you have to take a step back before you can go forward. That's where he's at right now. He's got to go back, and prove to himself that he can compete and play at this level at a higher level than we saw."

But before Hernandez can re-prove himself to the organization, he must pass through waivers. That process will last 10 days.

Trembley said he is confident that if Hernandez gets through waivers, the young infielder can go back to the Minor Leagues and "play on a regular basis and get himself back to where he was."

Where he was, specifically, refers to 2007 when Hernandez first gave Baltimore the indication that he could be a full-time Major League contributor. He filled in when Tejada was hurt last season, hitting .290 (20-for-69).

But things quickly spiraled downwards for Hernandez. He had a difficult Spring Training, though Trembley stuck behind him. After Hernandez batted .241 with inconsistent defense, Trembley had seen enough. The team decided to go to 13 pitchers after the bullpen had been taxed recently, and that meant there was no more room for Hernandez.

"I am a firm believer in giving everybody every opportunity you possibly can, don't make decisions based on one or two games," Trembley said. "But sooner or later, you get yourself to the point where you have to move on and do what's best for your club."

Hernandez's role as a starter was revoked on May 8. Since then, it has primarily been Freddie Bynum's position. Bynum remains the Orioles' starting shortstop, with Alex Cintron the occasional fill-in.


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