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After Hech deal, Riddle starts to reward faith

Firmly entretched as starting shortstop, rookie breaks out of slump, shows off glove
MLB.com

MIAMI -- JT Riddle didn't waste much time showing the Marlins' front office it was right to entrust him with the starting shortstop job.

A day after Adeiny Hechavarria was traded to the Rays, Riddle collected two hits, reached base three times and made a crucial defensive play in Miami's 6-3 win over the Mets on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

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MIAMI -- JT Riddle didn't waste much time showing the Marlins' front office it was right to entrust him with the starting shortstop job.

A day after Adeiny Hechavarria was traded to the Rays, Riddle collected two hits, reached base three times and made a crucial defensive play in Miami's 6-3 win over the Mets on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.

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"It was good to see it, especially today when you trade a guy like Hech, who you know is just a premier defender and a guy that has been here for a long time," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Basically, the organization says, 'We like this kid,' and he's been struggling, so for him to get a couple of hits, I think is good for his confidence."

Riddle's defensive presence was really felt in the seventh inning. After the Mets tied the game at 3 on a Travis d'Arnaud's solo homer, momentum was on their side.

Following a walk, Curtis Granderson lined a ball up the middle. Riddle, who was shaded to the right behind second base in a shift, slid to his right and nabbed the ball before changing course, stepping on the bag and firing to first for the double play.

Video: NYM@MIA: Riddle makes a sliding stop for double play

"I thought Riddle's play was kind of game-changing when they hit the homer run to tie," Mattingly said. "It looks like they've got something going a little bit, and he makes that play up the middle to get us out of that."

While Riddle flashed the leather, the 25-year-old rookie's productive day at the plate may have been a more welcomed sign.

In the bottom half of the seventh, he chopped a single off the glove of Mets first baseman Lucas Duda to set up Miami's pivotal three-run rally. And in the fourth, he roped a double over left fielder Yoenis Cespedes' head.

Riddle had been hitting .190 in June entering Tuesday, a slump possibly brought on by pressure knowing Hechavarria was working his way back off the disabled list.

Video: Marlins acquire prospects in Hechavarria trade

"I kind of get a sense of what he was going through," Marlins pitcher Dan Straily said. "You kind of put this perceived fake pressure on yourself. I'm not saying he was doing that, but that's what I went through. Hopefully now he can relax and play, because we've seen what he's capable of. ... There's a lot of promise in that kid."

Riddle is just happy he's getting a shot to prove his worth without anyone behind him.

"Now I just want to prove to them that they made a good decision," the rookie said. "I'm going to come in here and give my best every day."

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.

Miami Marlins, JT Riddle