D-backs option struggling Hernandez to Triple-A

D-backs option struggling Hernandez to Triple-A

PHOENIX -- At the onset of the 2013 season, it was all but set in stone that David Hernandez would be the D-backs' heir apparent to J.J. Putz at the back end of the club's bullpen. Now just a little more than four months later, the right-hander's future isn't nearly as clear.

With Hernandez's ERA at a season-worst 5.59 after another rough outing Saturday night, the D-backs optioned the 28-year-old to Triple-A Reno following the club's 4-1 loss to the Mets. Arizona will make a corresponding move Sunday.

"I'm surprised I lasted that long, it's been a pretty rough year," Hernandez said. "But I just have to move forward."

Hernandez was arguably the D-backs' most reliable reliever in 2012, posting a 2.50 ERA over 68 1/3 innings. This season, however, has been a completely different story for the righty. Hernandez has surrendered 28 earned runs in just 47 1/3 innings in 2013, allowing more home runs (10) than he had in his previous two campaigns combined (8). More recently, since July 23 he has worked five innings and allowed nine earned runs on eight hits and seven walks.

Asked if he thinks some time away from the spotlight will help, Hernandez replied: "I think so, get regular innings in a less pressured environment.

"There's no reason to go down and pout about it. I've been sent down before and I've always come back better, so hopefully that's what will happen."

Hernandez, who hasn't pitched in the Minors since 2010, came into Saturday's game in the eighth inning with the D-backs trailing by just a run. He walked the first batter he faced before giving up a bunt single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Hernandez retired the next two Mets to get within one out of escaping the jam, but after an intentional walk to Ike Davis to load the bases, Wilmer Flores singled through the left side of the infield to plate two runs.

"The game has kind of been cruel to him," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He has made some good pitches and it hasn't worked out. We were playing [Flores] to pull and he hits it in between the five-and-six hole. It's kind of been the way it's been going for David."

Added Hernandez: "It just sums up the season, really. I finally started making good pitches and they're finding holes. That's the way the game goes sometimes. More times than not, I'll get out of that inning."

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.