Fish Bytes

Marlins putting faith in JT Riddle at shortstop with Hechavarria trade

Washington Nationals left fielder Ryan Raburn slides as Miami Marlins shortstop J.T. Riddle tags him out during the third inning on Wed., June 21, 2017 at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla.
Washington Nationals left fielder Ryan Raburn slides as Miami Marlins shortstop J.T. Riddle tags him out during the third inning on Wed., June 21, 2017 at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

It didn’t matter that rookie shortstop JT Riddle was mired in an 0-for-22 slump. It didn’t matter that backup shortstop Miguel Rojas is on the disabled list, where he’ll remain for another few weeks.

None of that mattered on Monday when the Marlins cut ties with Adeiny Hechavarria, trading their every-day shortstop of the past five seasons to the Rays for a couple of fringe minor-league prospects.

The Rays picked up the remainder ($2.35 million) of Hechavarria’s salary.

It wasn’t about the money the Marlins will be saving, contended president of baseball operations Michael Hill.

“I think this one really focused on the emergence of JT,” Hill said.

Riddle, suffering through a rookie slump, took a .230 average into Tuesday night’s series opener against the Mets.

“I just want to prove to them they made a good decision,” Riddle said of the trade. “I know I can get better as a player, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Riddle understands the business aspect of the game.

“Things can change very quickly,” he said. “Of course, they did for me. I didn’t think I’d be up here this soon. Now it’s here to stay it looks like. But I don’t want to look at it like that. Things can change quick. I can not do well and all of a sudden [be sent] back down in a heartbeat.”

Hechavarria was gifted with the glove, a human-highlight reel when fielding his position. But his bat left something to be desired.

Even had Hechavarria remained, it was doubtful the Marlins would have tendered him a 2018 contract in what would have been his final season of salary arbitration.

So now the job belongs to Riddle.

Rojas is due back from a broken thumb after the All-Star break. In the meantime, Riddle has no true backup. Second baseman Dee Gordon will serve as the emergency backup at shortstop.

STANTON WANTS SHINE AGAIN AT HR DERBY

Giancarlo Stanton doesn’t want to mess with a winning formula.

When he defends his title at the Home Run Derby on July 10 at Marlins Park, Stanton hopes to have former Marlins coach Pat Shine throwing to him.

“I think I’ll have Pat Shine come back,” Stanton said. “We’re already talking.”

Shine left the Marlins at the end of the 2016 season to become manager of the Single A Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings of the Midwest League. But Shine was fired last week from the job.

Stanton said he is looking forward to this year’s Derby and wouldn’t mind facing off against two young sluggers, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger.

“Judge. Bellinger. All those guys,” Stanton said. “The fans want to see it. I want [Marcell] Ozuna to be in it, too. So the best candidates. Whoever wants to do it, have fun.”

COMING UP

▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Jeff Locke (0-3, 5.70 ERA) vs. New York Mets LHP Steven Matz (1-1, 3.60), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (6-2, 3.33) vs. Mets RHP Seth Lugo (2-1, 3.72), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments