Adeiny Hechavarria’s reputation as a sure-handed shortstop started when he was a little kid in Cuba playing with a ping-pong ball.
“Honestly, I’ve always loved to catch the ball,’’ he said through a translator Wednesday before the Marlins’ 5-1 win over Washington.
“From when I was real little, I would play with a ping-pong ball. When I was real young, I never liked to hit. I liked to catch the ball and throw. Catch and throw. That came natural to me. Once I started training, everything came together.’’
Hechavarria, 23, has played in just 41 games since making his major-league debut with Toronto last August. But the Marlins are counting on him to anchor their infield defense and help fans move past the controversial trade that brought him to Miami in November.
Marlins fans watched All-Star-caliber shortstops Hanley Ramirez from 2006-11 and Jose Reyes in 2012. Their first challenge this year will be to pronounce Hechavarria’s names: His first name sounds like “uh-DAY-knee.” His last name, “ETCH-uh-vuh-REE-ya”.
“Hanley Ramirez called us and told us what an incredible shortstop he is,’’ Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said Monday in remarks defending the trade.
“When Hanley tells you, ‘He is better than I am, you’ve got a great guy with great hands,’ it’s amusing to listen to.’’
Hechavarria may lack experience, but his potential has not escaped the eyes of major-league talent evaluators.
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