Rock bottom. Chad Hermansen hit it a couple of years ago, when he was released by the Pirates.
Only it wasn't the Pittsburgh Pirates -- the team that selected the former Green Valley High School star with the 10th overall pick of the 1995 draft -- it was the Mexican League's Campeche Pirates, who let Hermansen go after he hit .182 in 11 games and struck out about 20 times in 30 at-bats in 2005.
"It was bad. When I came home from Mexico, I was about as down as I could be," said Hermansen, who was back in Las Vegas on Wednesday night at Cashman Field as an outfielder for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins.
"It was a miserable time for me. It was hot down there, I don't speak Spanish, and just being away from my family in a foreign country, I realized that's not for me. It was probably the first time I've ever been happy about getting released."
Hermansen, who hit .353 for the 51s in 2003, was released by the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2004 campaign, in which he hit .240 in 42 games for Triple-A Syracuse and suffered a fractured rib.
A shoulder injury hampered his play in 2005, and Hermansen, who will turn 30 in September, seriously contemplated retirement.
"It's been hard. I thought about retiring 100 times," he said. "You get the injury bug and kind of realistically start thinking, 'How much of a chance am I going to get again?' "
After getting healthy, though, Hermansen decided to take another run at the big leagues.
"That way, at least I can look in the mirror and say I gave it my full shot again," he said.
A career .195 hitter in 189 games over six seasons with the Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays, Hermansen played well enough last year for the independent Sioux Falls (S.D.) Canaries (.317, 19 homers, 72 RBIs in 94 games) to earn a spring training invite with the Marlins.
Despite playing in only 10 spring games because of yet another injury (strained back), an "ecstatic" Hermansen earned a spot with Albuquerque to start the season and tore it up in April, batting .367.
Despite his hot start, Hermansen is the only Albuquerque outfielder not to earn a promotion to the Marlins this season.
"They've all been called up except me, so that's been kind of hard to swallow," he said. "It seems like I'm kind of the last guy on the totem pole."
After flying out in his only at-bat as a pinch hitter in Wednesday's 7-6 loss to Las Vegas, Hermansen is hitting .285 with nine homers and 44 RBIs in 87 games for the Isotopes.
Hermansen said he doesn't expect to get called up to the majors this season, but he hopes he's done enough to earn a job for next year.
"Hopefully, it's not the end, but at the same time, I have to contemplate how long I want to continue to do this," said Hermansen, who still lives in Henderson with his wife and their three children, ages 7, 4 and 1. "I have a wife and three kids, and it's getting to the point now where they're starting to miss Daddy."
• NOTE -- Delwyn Young set a Las Vegas franchise record with his 96th career double as the 51s beat the Isotopes for only the second time in 18 meetings.