PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays have a competition this spring for the starting second-base job. Willy Adames, the organization's top position player prospect, isn't fully a part of that competition. But the 22-year-old was in the starting lineup at the keystone in Friday's 4-3 loss to the Twins.Batting ninth,
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays have a competition this spring for the starting second-base job. Willy Adames, the organization's top position player prospect, isn't fully a part of that competition. But the 22-year-old was in the starting lineup at the keystone in Friday's 4-3 loss to the Twins.
Batting ninth, Adames went 1-for-3 with a double while playing eight defensive innings. This was Adames' first game at second base this spring after 35 innings at shortstop. Adeiny Hechavarria, the Rays' veteran shortstop, was back at his regular position on Friday. Adames started 11 games at second last season for Triple-A Durham, his first time playing there in five Minor League seasons.
"He looked good," manager Kevin Cash said. "I know him and Hech have been lobbying to play on the same field together. It's good. I think Willy has done a tremendous job this spring of kind of following Hechy around, watching that consistency of a big league shortstop.
"You can see drastic improvement from his consistency, speaking of Willy, from this time last year until now."
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Cash had said earlier this spring he planned to get a look at Adames at second base, gauging his versatility, not in consideration of a position move.
"He has to be a shortstop for us," Cash said. "Willy's made some tremendous strides from this time year to where he is now, consistency, catching the ball, but he did play a handful of games at second base. … But we view Willy as a Major League shortstop, and want him to get as good as he can be at that position."
"It feels good," Adames said of playing second. "It's been a while, but it feels good. It was great to be with Hechy out there today. We've been doing everything together this spring and for me to be there with him, it was great today."
Adames acknowledged there is an adjustment to being on the other side of the infield.
"Last year, I did it, it was kind of hard in the beginning," Adames said. "You got to move your feet in the opposite way. It took me like three games to feel good. But I made that adjustment practicing, during BP, taking a lot of ground balls.
"If they need me at third, too, I'll play whatever. I'm just trying to do a job, make the team and help my team win."
Coming off the field after his eighth-inning double, it appeared Adames may have tweaked something. Cash said he caught a spike sliding back into second, but there was no issue. Adames said he iced his left ankle after the game as a precaution.
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com.