ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames got his wings on Wednesday night, and he flew in a 7-2 win at Tropicana Field.
For most of the season, the Rays have gone back and forth committing to their No. 1 prospect. But the slick-fielding Adeiny Hechavarria remained on the team, which blocked that commitment to Adames.
Prior to Wednesday night's game, the Rays designated Hechavarria for assignment to allow Adames to play the position without having to worry about Hechavarria's presence.
"I mean, I would say it helped me a little bit," Adames said. "You never want a teammate to get DFA'd, but it's just part of the business. And he's going to get a job, because he's one of the best shortstops in the game."
Freshly anointed as the starting shortstop, Adames responded with a solid performance, driving home the Rays' second run, then hitting a solo home run in the sixth that put the Rays up, 4-2.
Wednesday night's game "was good for Willy," manager Kevin Cash said. "Willy needed a couple of hits. He got every bit of the home run. It was good to see him smiling, because he's put pressure on himself to go perform. It doesn't always come that easy, but today he really performed for us and got some big knocks at the plate."
Adames said he was "being aggressive" on Wednesday.
"I was attacking the zone," Adames said. "[I got] some good pitches to hit, and I just put the barrel on it. ... I need to get better. I've been working hard [doing extra work]. ... I think that's just helping me to get better."
Adames' fourth home run of the season served as a reminder of the skills possessed by the 22-year-old, who came to the Rays from the Tigers via the 2014 David Price trade. According to Statcast™, Adames' blast had a 106.6-mph exit velocity before landing in the left-field stands, a projected 413 feet away from home plate.
"That's the guy we know and love," said Jake Bauers.
Of course, there's still room for growth. Adames has soft hands and a strong arm, but he looked like a rookie when he made a diving backhanded stop of a Justin Upton grounder, got to his feet and spiked the throw 20 feet in front of him. To Adames' credit, he managed a smile.
The throw "almost hit my foot," Adames said.
Although he also made a throwing error in the eighth, Adames looked well in command at the position the Rays hope he'll occupy for the coming years.
Adames was only part of the good news on Wednesday night. Newcomer Tyler Glasnow, who just came over from the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade on Tuesday, did well in his first Rays start. Jake Faria followed Glasnow, returning from the disabled to hold the Angels to one run during a 3 2/3-inning stint.
• Glasnow makes great impression in Rays debut
Meanwhile, Bauers, the Rays' first baseman of the future, delivered a two-run homer in the eighth, giving him a home run in three consecutive games.
Since June 11, the Rays are 19-4 at Tropicana Field, giving them a .826 winning percentage at home, the Majors' best over that stretch.
HE SAID IT
"You feel nothing. You feel nothing. You see the ball jump. You know you are swinging it good when you aren't feeling it off the bat and you can almost not keep up with it off the bat." -- Bauers, on how perfect contact on a home run feels
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays challenged in the eighth when Upton was called safe after advancing to second on Adames' throwing error to first. After a review of 56 seconds, the call on the field was overturned, and Upton become the first out of the inning.
Hunter Wood gets the nod on Thursday against the Angels in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. It will be his fourth career start. He has a 1.93 ERA in three starts and a 3.86 ERA out of the bullpen. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four in 1 2/3 innings on Sunday at Baltimore. Left-hander Andrew Heaney will start for the Angels.