Hechavarria to see reps at second base

Hechavarria to see reps at second base

Hechavarria to see reps at second base
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell announced Wednesday that Adeiny Hechavarria will practice at second base this week and play in games throughout Spring Training in preparation for a possible promotion to the Major Leagues this season.

"That doesn't mean we're looking to move him, but in the event that we need some flexibility, he's our premier defender in the Minor Leagues, so we're going to get him some reps at second base," Farrell said. "But we still view him as a long-term and an elite type of shortstop."

Farrell said the organization would promote Hechavarria during the regular season if a middle infielder is placed on the disabled list. Hechavarria is the No. 16 prospect in the Blue Jays' system.

"That's what we wanted to preface it with, if there was a six-week injury or a two-month injury, we would make a move," Farrell said. "It's not a long-term positional shift for him, but he would be a clear-cut candidate [as a replacement]."

Farrell was able to get a close-up view of the highly regarded prospect while tossing batting practice a couple days ago.

"The one thing you see right now, he just looks stronger," Farrell said. "Throwing batting practice the other day, you get that rare vision of him from the mound. This year, there's a little bit more authority with the swing than a year ago. Even meeting with him today -- we did his one-on-one meeting with him today -- he talked about the difference [between] his offseason this year compared to last season leading up to Spring Training."

Hechavarria has steadily climbed the ladder in the Minor Leagues the last two years, compiling a .248 batting average in 172 games with Double-A New Hampshire from 2010-11 and a .389 batting average in 25 games with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2011.

Team officials met with Hechavarria after Wednesday's workouts, where they spoke with him about taking repetitions at second base.

"He was receptive to it, but he's got work to do there," said Farrell, who was told by Hechavarria that he was 15 the last time he played the position. "That's why he'll get some reps there throughout Spring Training and in games."

Farrell said having 23-year veteran Omar Vizquel in camp has been beneficial to Hechavarria's learning curve this spring.

"Not just his skill set, but his experience level was one of the things we talked about before bringing him in," Farrell said of Vizquel. "He's willing and wanting to impart his experience. There's a lot of conversation going on, not just with Yunel [Escobar] and [Hechavarria], but with everyone in camp."

Farrell also said Hechavarria would be cleared to play with the big league club when the time comes, after finding out from Hechavarria about a month ago that the 22-year-old Cuban defector had received proper documentation. The Blue Jays attempted to bring Hechavarria to the team's rookie program in January, but he was still prohibited.

The team will confirm Hechavarria's status over the next week.