Darell Hernaiz

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — He had his windbreaker folded, laying on his left shoulder as he grabbed his bats and ran out of the dugout to the centerfield wall opening. Only one inning of ball had been played between the Triple-A River Cats and Aviators.

Darell Hernaiz was heading to New York just moments after Oakland A’s manager Mark Kotsay said second baseman Zack Gelof was going on the injured list with an oblique strain. Hernaiz would rejoin the team after a recent demotion.

Hernaiz came to Oakland via trade with a crowded Baltimore Orioles’ farm system last year and instantly had “highly outed” stamped on him. The announcement he made the Opening Day roster had him on Cloud Nine with an infectious smile.

The phone call with his mom to inform her of the news was difficult because he couldn’t get the words out. He was a major league baseball player.

On Thursday, he was back in the A’s starting lineup, playing third base after arriving in the Bronx to face the New York Yankees at 6:30 am.

Hernaiz would end up going 2-for-2 with a stolen base.

He was still reeling about the dream come true of Kots telling him he would be sporting green and gold. The motivation he felt after his demotion to Triple-A didn’t need to last long.

“Yeah, it was awesome. I mean, it’s a lifelong dream,” Hernaiz told The Comeback on Wednesday before he was promoted. “And, yeah, I’m just super blessed for the opportunity and just honestly gives me more motivation to hopefully stay there one day and, you know, prove that I can be really good at that level.”

The A’s split the series with the Yankees just in time for Hernaiz to face his former team. The first of a three-game stint at Camden Yards will begin Friday.

Hernaiz said the culture with the Orioles organization taught him lessons about winning.

“You know, I saw kind of how Baltimore did it because I came from over there,” Hernaiz said.

He sees an opportunity to adopt that culture with his new team and sees similarities between the two.

“The culture over there is definitely pretty similar to that,” Hernaiz said. “So I kind of saw what they did, and now that they’re succeeding, I’m like, ‘Oh, Okay — like, you know,’ Kind of try to take some things over here. And I feel like that’s where it starts. Definitely.”

The Orioles currently lead the American League East with a 16-8 record and a young core possessing the names of Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser, Jackson Holliday and Jordan Westburg who have turned heads this season.

“I mean over there it’s definitely a very tight knit group,” Hernaiz said. “And you know, they just honestly go and have fun at the field to be honest with you. Like as simple as it sounds. But I’m just trying to bring that over here as much as I can. But yeah, I’ve talked to a lot of the guys, a lot of my friends here and, told them what what it was like over there. And because they’ve asked me about it, just because the Orioles are having success now and yeah, we’ve talked about it and we’re trying to bring that over here to Oakland … or wherever it’s going to be.”

Hernaiz applauded the A’s organization for letting him be himself. It’s helped his already noticeable confidence.

“They trusted me,” he said. “And, I feel like that’s really important.”

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.