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Gorkys tries to carry winter hitting lessons into spring


JUPITER, Fla. -- Gorkys Hernandez may be out of options, but the 25-year-old outfielder is not lacking optimism.

With no guarantees, the speedster is trying to win a roster spot with the Marlins. Hernandez is competing either to be the starting center fielder or an extra outfielder.

Defensively, the Venezuela native is regarded as far above average. What will determine his fate is his hitting.

After being traded from Pittsburgh to Miami for Gaby Sanchez, Hernandez batted .212 with three home runs and five stolen bases in 45 games. Counting his 25 games with Pittsburgh, he combined for a .192 average in 156 at-bats.

"This is a big year for me," Hernandez said. "I'm trying to help the team however I can."

Foremost, Hernandez dedicated himself in the offseason by playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. He paced the league in hitting with a .367 average in 226 at-bats.

"I did an adjustment at home plate," the outfielder said. "When I played with the Marlins last year, I learned a lot. I tried to concentrate and look for one pitch and tried to do a much better job on offense. I already have good defense. Everybody says, 'If you hit more, you can play a long time in the big leagues.' That's what I did when I went to Venezuela. I did good there. This spring, I'm trying to do the same thing I did in Venezuela."

Hernandez pretty much has been going non-stop since the end of 2012. On Oct. 7, he traveled back to Venezuela, and he starting getting ready for the Winter League season on Oct. 11.

"Here, playing depends on how you are doing," he said. "If you are doing good, you'll play. If you're not doing good, you have to wait for your opportunity to play.

"When I went to Venezuela to play winter ball, I tried looking for one pitch and giving 100 percent in the field. That's what I did. I had good news."

Miami's other center-field options include Justin Ruggiano, Bryan Petersen and Juan Pierre, who may wind up starting in left field.

"I've got to see [Hernandez] play, I've never seen him play," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's a guy who is in the mix, too. He's going to go out there and get a chance to play. I've heard he's a tremendous defender. He can really run. Hopefully he will make a tough decision for us. That's what we want."

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