Miami Marlins

Adeiny Hechavarria changes approach, sees results

Miami Marlins Adeiny Echevarria singles in the fifth inning against the Washington National at Marlins Park on Friday, Abril 24, 2015.
Miami Marlins Adeiny Echevarria singles in the fifth inning against the Washington National at Marlins Park on Friday, Abril 24, 2015. EL Nuevo Herald

Adeiny Hechavarria is continuing to excel defensively with his glove work. But it’s what he’s been doing at the plate — especially in road games — that’s drawing notice.

Hechavarria recorded one of the Marlins’ measley three hits in Friday night’s 6-0 setback to the Giants, which actually lowered his road average on the season to a torrid .414.

Overall, Hechavarria is hitting .313 this season, a marked improvement over his career .251 mark.

Hechavarria credits Marlins hitting coach Frank Menechino for convincing him to change his approach at the plate. Instead of aiming for the right side of the field, Hechavarria is now trying to go up the middle.

As a result, he’s spraying hits to all parts of the field.

“This year, I’ve mainly focused on staying on the ball and hitting up the middle,” Hechavarria said. “I don’t think about right field. I don’t think about left field. I just think about hitting the ball up the middle.”

Said Menechino: “It’s all about his timing. When he starts to think about hitting the ball to right field, he was getting started late [with his swing]. He was getting started late, and then the ball was by him. So I told him gap to gap. He’s not limiting to just right field.”

What makes Hechavarria’s improvement even more impressive is that he hits at the bottom of the lineup, in front of the pitcher. It’s a demanding spot, and Menechino is surprised pitchers are giving Hechavarria anything to hit.

“I don’t know why they pitch to him so much,” Menechino said. “There’s been some situations where I go, ‘Why don’t they walk him?’ And they don’t. They think he’ll chase [bad pitches], but he’s not chasing.”

the mighty casey

Miami induced two double-play ground balls out of ex-Marlin Casey McGehee on Friday — just not when one was needed most. McGehee belted a grand slam off Jarred Cosart with one out in the second inning, propelling the Giants to the shutout victory at AT&T Park.

“The situation was there,” Cosart said. “I was one pitch away from a double-play ball, against a hitter who hits into a lot of double plays. And I threw a ball right down the middle.”

Despite clubbing only four homers and grounding into a major-league-leading 31 double plays in his one season with the Marlins, McGehee was still a major contributor and ended up being named Comeback Player of the Year.

But until he feasted on Cosart’s 3-1 fastball by crushing it over the fence in left-center, McGehee was on shaky ground with the Giants, what with an average of .178 and nine double-play ground balls. Manager Bruce Bochy had benched McGehee three consecutive games heading into Friday.

“It was an important at-bat for me,” McGehee said. “It’s just nice to get a big hit.”

▪ Dee Gordon remained out of the lineup Saturday for the second game in a row with a tight hamstring. But Gordon said he should be ready to play Sunday.

“The way it feels right now, yeah,” Gordon said.

Gordon tweaked his hamstring by stepping awkwardly on home plate on Thursday when he scored from second on a Giancarlo Stanton single.

coming up

▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Mat Latos (1-3, 5.60 ERA) at San Francisco Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (1-2, 6.84), 4:05 p.m., AT&T Park.

▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (2-3, 5.18) at Los Angeles Dodgers (TBA), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.

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