PHILADELPHIA -- How much will Adeiny Hechavarria hit?
It's the most commonly asked question by personnel evaluators across the league when Hechavarria's name comes up. The answer so far is, the Marlins shortstop is progressing nicely at the plate.
Hechavarria entered Saturday night batting .372 (16-for-43) with three doubles, a triple, seven runs scored and three RBIs.
The sample size may be small, but among shortstops, the 24-year-old has more at-bats than anybody. Hanley Ramirez, Alexei Ramirez, Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus, for instance, each have 42 at-bats. Of that group, only Alexei Ramirez (.429) has a higher batting average.
Hechavarria has been Miami's most consistent player, offensively and defensively, all season. The athleticism and raw baseball tools continue to stand out.
"You're just seeing him, getting the experience of the at-bats from last year to this year, and he's making adjustments," manager Mike Redmond said. "I think we all know and feel that this guy has the ability to hit. When that all comes together, he's an All-Star. I think we all feel like that."
Hechavarria has always been known for his glove, but now he is making an impact with his bat.
A year ago, when he made the transition from the Blue Jays to the Marlins, Hechavarria had his struggles at the plate, batting .227.
Thus far, his approach is much better. He's staying up the middle or hitting the ball to right field. The feeling is in time, when he gets more experience, he will start turning on the ball and show some power to left field.
It's been a process, but he is seeing some immediate results.
"It's good to see him improve," Redmond said.
Fernandez moves past rare tough start
PHILADELPHIA -- Chalk it up to an off night. The Marlins are doing so, and so is Jose Fernandez.
The way the Phillies knocked Fernandez around on Friday night in four-plus innings showed no matter how much talent you possess, if you don't execute, the results can be ugly.
"The fastball, I wasn't locating it," Fernandez said. "It's the perfect pitch to hit, no matter how hard it is. If it's up, it's a beautiful pitch to hit."
The Phillies tagged Fernandez for a career-high six earned runs and went on to beat the Marlins, 6-3, in the series opener at Citizens Bank Park.
The way Fernandez has dominated the league since early last year, what took place on Friday night was a bit startling.
Miami's 21-year-old ace had gone 13 straight starts without allowing more than two runs. His previous appearance where he gave up three came on July 7, 2013, at St. Louis.
During the 13-game streak, Fernandez was lights-out. He posted a 9-1 record, and the Marlins were 11-2 in those outings. Fernandez sported a 1.25 ERA, struck out 105 in 86 2/3 innings, and opponents hit a mere .166 against him. It was rare he even gave up baserunners, as his WHIP was 0.84, and he averaged 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
"We're talking about a lot of starts where he was pretty good," manager Mike Redmond said.
Now Fernandez is looking forward to his next start, which is on Wednesday at home against the Nationals. At Marlins Park, the young righty is 11-0 in his career with a 1.14 ERA.
"I'm not worried about Jose, he's going to be just fine," Redmond said.
Marlins trying to recapture opening week magic
PHILADELPHIA -- So much of the magic at the plate that was prevalent during the opening homestand has disappeared on the road for the Marlins.
In their 5-2 home swing to launch the season, the Marlins scored 42 runs and batted .294. The hitters in the lineup fed off each other and provided plenty of support to win two straight series.
It's been a complete struggle on the road. Miami was swept at Washington and dropped Friday night's series opener at Philadelphia.
In the first four games on the trip, the Marlins scored 11 runs and are batting .215 as a team.
"The first week of the season, we had a lot of big hits, two-out hits," manager Mike Redmond said. "Sometimes that just goes with the momentum of the lineup. I think we got pitched tough a couple of nights there in Washington. At the same time, too, that can all change in one night as well."
The Marlins have mixed in some veterans with a young nucleus, and there are still some growing pains.
"We still have some young guys in our lineup, and that's still part of the process of these guys learning to hit at the big league level and learning the pitching," Redmond said. "I think overall, I'm happy with the approach and the attitude. And guys are up there working, trying to get themselves into good hitters' counts. I know those hits are going to come."
Giancarlo Stanton points to the tough loss at Washington on Wednesday, when the team let a five-run lead slip away in a 10-7 loss. He said the game felt like a punch to the face.
"That's what younger and less experienced teams will do," Stanton said. "You don't always react [the right way], because you haven't gone through it at this level. We have the combo of both [veterans and young], but that's what happens in those situations."
Stanton says the time is now to stop the bleeding.
"It can't be a let it happen type deal, especially here," the slugger said. "If you say, 'We're all right, we're all right,' and if you let it keep going a few more days, then it's going to get out of hand."
Furcal to start Class A rehab stint on Monday
PHILADELPHIA -- In a couple of days, Rafael Furcal is scheduled to start up his rehab assignment.
The 36-year-old second baseman, who opened the season on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, is expected to join the Class A Jupiter Hammerheads for game action on Monday.
Since the Marlins opened their road trip, Furcal has been at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., receiving treatment and going through baseball activities. In recent days, he has been running without discomfort, and the team is ready for him to play in games.
The plan is for Furcal to spend a week with the Hammerheads, and then a week with Double-A Jacksonville. He will be evaluated after that.
Position players can spend a maximum of 21 days on a rehab assignment.
"The last couple of days he's been feeling good," manager Mike Redmond said. "We've been getting the reports. He's running. He feels good. He's ready to go."
• About an hour before Saturday's game, Derek Dietrich was scratched due to lower back tightness. Jeff Baker filled in at second base and batted seventh. Dietrich will be out a couple of days, and the team will monitor him, leaving the Marlins thin on middle infielders. Donovan Solano is their utility infielder. Furcal and Ed Lucas (broken left hand) are on the disabled list.