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Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

New York Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton (27) is out at second base as Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames relays the ball to first while attempting to complete the double play during the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 17, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
New York Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton (27) is out at second base as Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames relays the ball to first while attempting to complete the double play during the fourth inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 17, 2018, at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Published Jun. 18, 2018

NEW YORK — The Adeiny Hechavarria situation is going to be interesting for the Rays.

The veteran seemed destined to be traded or even released as he completed his recovery from a hamstring strain rather than play again for the Rays after last week's promotion and anointment of top prospect Willy Adames as the everyday shortstop.

But with INF Christian Arroyo sidelined by a worsening oblique strain, the team called Hechavarria back from his rehab stint, put him at short Sunday against the Yankees with Adames sliding to second, and watched Hechavarria rap three hits and make a dazzling play on a Gleyber Torres smash and a few other smooth ones.

"He definitely proved he was ready,'' manager Kevin Cash.

So what are the Rays going to do?

From what Cash said before the game, it sounded like Adames was going to be back at short Monday night and going forward, and Hechavarria, who has played only shortstop since his 2012 rookie season, was going to be on the bench.

Most pointedly, that "Willy's going to play short, I expressed that to Willy" and that the Sunday start at second "doesn't change our plans, our thoughts about Willy whatsoever.''

Also, Cash said he planned to sit down at some point with Hechavarria and, in what won't be a fun talk, explain the situation. As uncomfortable as this might be, it shouldn't last long. With Daniel Robertson slated to come off the disabled listed Friday, a decision on Hechavarria might have to come soon.

RHP Wilmer Font not only stepped up big on Sunday's bullpen day by working effectively into the fifth inning on 74 pitches, he might've earned a chance to step into the shorthanded rotation. "We're going to talk about it,'' Cash said. "Obviously we need some sort of coverage. I think now (pitching coach Kyle Snyder) would probably be pretty good with him getting to 85-90 pitches, and if he's able to do that, and we need him to do that because of the shape of the bullpen, we'd be pretty comfortable just kind of letting him start.'' Font, who had a 12.71 ERA in 10 appearances with the Dodgers and A's, has a tidy 2.20 in seven games for the Rays. He said the primary difference was the Rays moving him back to the first-base side of the rubber after the Dodgers had moved him to the other side in spring training. "That changed everything for the good," he said. "And I feel like I did last year (when he was 10-8, 3.42 at Triple-A Oklahoma City)."

Cash said Arroyo, the Hernando High product who played in 20 games, had been dealing with an oblique issue for a while and aggravated it in his first at-bat Friday. "He didn't really say anything, and he's a tough kid, but at the same time I hope he didn't make it worse,'' Cash said. "It's gotten worse by the day, and not really doing anything. He came in (Saturday) feeling really sore with no improvement.'' … CF Kevin Kiermaier (right thumb surgery) had one hit in his first three at-bats Sunday for Triple-A Durham in his fifth rehab game, targeted to be activated when the Rays get home Friday.

OF Carlos Gomez had a disappointing and frustrating stint with the Astros that ended with him being designated for assignment in August 2016, and the relationship apparently remains rocky. Gomez said he doesn't enjoy playing against his former mates, and as far as the crowd reaction Monday night at Minute Maid Park, "I don't know, and I don't care.''

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• RHP Ryne Stanek will be used Monday night as the opener for the second time in three days. RHP Matt Andriese seems most likely to be used to cover innings.

• The team will face the Astros' dynamic duo of RHP Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in the first two games, then Charlie Morton. "They're good, but are they any different than what we saw in (the Yankees' Jonathan) Loaisiga, (Luis) Severino and (CC) Sabathia?'' Cash said. "We knew this was going to be a challenging road trip.''

• The Rays snapped a nine-game road losing streak, their longest since 2016.

• Rays batters struck out 46 times in the four-game series against the Yankees.

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