MIAMI — Adeiny Hechavarria truly doesn't know where he could be playing tomorrow. Or any day going forward.
In bringing up Willy Adames a couple weeks ago to transition from the shortstop of the future to the present, the Rays made clear Hechavarria's time was in the past.
But it's not that simple, as few things with the Rays are, as they also seem determined to only ship Hechavarria out if they can get something of value in return, and not eat the close to $3 million remaining on his deal.
So for now, Hechavarria splits time at short with Adames, showcasing his extraordinary defensive skills that the other 29 teams are already well aware of, and wondering what will be next.
"It's different,'' Hechavarria said.
"Sometimes I'm thinking a lot (about it),'' he said. "I'm feeling a little sad sometimes. It's like that. Maybe tomorrow I'm playing for another team. You never know.''
The Rays' urgency to trade Hechavarria is likely to increase, and their demands to decrease, in the next few weeks leading up to the July 31 deadline for non-waiver deals. He is a free agent after the season, so getting something, even salary relief, would seem to make more sense than nothing if he walks away. Plus there could be clarity once Baltimore moves Manny Machado, as teams looking for shortstop help can be more realistic about their other options.
While having him in the lineup may give the Rays a better chance to win that game, every time he starts is one less opportunity for Adames, who has gotten some playing time at second, to get the experience he needs.
Manager Kevin Cash praised Hechavarria for how he has handled the matter.
"Hech is a guy used to playing every single day for good reason,'' he said. "He deserves to play every single day. We tried to do everything we could, myself and Charlie (Montoyo, the Spanish-speaking bench/infield coach) talking to him, being honest about the situation. I know our front office has spoken with his agent, trying to be honest. I think that's all you can do.
"I think it's up to the player, how they want to decide. I know Hech wants to play every day. It's probably not going to happen. But we're going to do, I'm going to do everything I can to keep him consistently in the lineup and on a good routine.''
Hechavarria has been enjoying the series with the Marlins, as he played the previous 4½ seasons in Miami, and has an offseason home and relatives, including his parents, in the area. And he has played well, with several dazzling defensive plays and RBIs in each of the first two games.
"I feel great,'' he said. "This is awesome. My first time this happened to me.''
As for the best part of his return?
"A lot of favorite memories,'' he said. "My teammates. The Cuban people that are here. And the food — a lot of food.''
Ryan Yarbrough started for the Rays on Tuesday because they used the planned opener, Ryne Stanek, to work the 10th inning on Monday and because Wednesday is shaping up as what Cash said will be "a heavy, heavy" bullpen day with several pitchers slated to work two- to three-inning stints.
Yarbrough had had considerably more success coming out of the bullpen than starting, with a 3.24 ERA and .236 opponents average in relief compared to 5.23 and .263.
Cash discounted the splits as too small of a sample size, saying the key for the rookie lefty is simple: "Yarbs throws well when he's willing to throw the ball over the plate and not put himself in bad counts.''
Yarbrough went out and added more evidence to the stack, allowing two runs on four hits in three innings, and worse on a two-run single by opposing starter Trevor Richards. Cash seemed to acknowledge it, pinch-hitting for Yarbrough in the fourth after the Marlins halved what had been a 4-0 lead, sparked by Wilson Ramos' two-run homer in the first. Austin Pruitt took over for Yarbrough and allowed two more runs. Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier made a tremendous throw home in the fifth to keep the score tied 4-4, and it stayed that way through 12 innings.
There was another potentially intriguing development in the Rays fourth, as outfielder Mallex Smith left the game — or was taken out of the game — after being forced out at second on the front end of an inning-ending double play when he didn't go hard into the base.
The Rays said Smith was not hurt, and there was no word of a trade, which at least raised the question if he was removed for a lack of hustle. Cash did that in 2016 to ex-Ray Steven Souza Jr.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays