Healthy Hechavarria eager to get back to work
MIAMI -- If not for a strained left hamstring that caused shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to miss the final month of the season, the Marlins just might have struck gold twice.
Hechavarria was playing at a Gold Glove level, but missing so much time late hurt his chances of joining his teammate, second baseman Dee Gordon, as a Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner. Instead, Hechavarria was among the three Gold Glove shortstop finalists, with San Francisco's Brandon Crawford taking home the honor.
When Miami acquired Gordon from the Dodgers at the 2014 Winter Meetings, the organization felt the Hechavarria-Gordon duo would form the top middle-infield combination -- at least defensively -- in the National League. For the most part, they delivered.
"I'm so excited for Dee," Hechavarria said. "He deserved everything. He fought for it. He came and played as hard as anyone here. I'm so happy for him."
Gordon recently gathered a bunch of awards, winning the Rawlings Gold Glove, the Wilson top defensive second base honor, and his first Silver Slugger.
For Hechavarria, the hamstring injury he suffered on Sept. 2 at Atlanta cut short his best big league season. The 26-year-old impressed at the plate, batting .281/.315/.374 with 17 doubles, six triples and five home runs. In the field, he was outstanding, committing nine errors while posting a .984 fielding percentage. His advanced metrics also were strong, as he had a 15.8 UZR (ultimate zone rating) and nine defensive runs saved.
Hechavarria also was a finalist for the Esurance Awards Best Defensive Player, which went to Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Gordon feels it is a matter of time before Hechavarria wins a Gold Glove. The speedy second baseman also noted that it took some time in Spring Training to build trust with Hechavarria. It actually came during a Grapefruit League game, when Gordon made a sensational leaping catch and turned it into a double play.
"There was a line shot to me. I backstepped, fell down and threw from my butt to second, and we turned a double play," Gordon said. "Hech looked at me and smiled, like, 'Wow. You're actually pretty good.' You have to kind of prove yourself. We proved ourselves to each other."
Hechavarria was hopeful to play at some point in September, but with the Marlins out of contention, it was decided to shut things down.
"I was somewhere between 87-90 percent of being able to come back," Hechavarria said. "But it wasn't worth risking anything with nothing on the line."
Physically, Hechavarria is now feeling fine. He's been working out at Marlins Park, and plans to start hitting in a few weeks.
"The hamstring is good, I don't feel nothing right now," the shortstop said.