Hechavarria gets first start at Marlins' leadoff spot

Hechavarria gets first start at Marlins' leadoff spot

SAN DIEGO -- With the Padres starting left-hander Eric Stults, Marlins manager Mike Redmond decided to give veteran Juan Pierre a day off on Tuesday.

Matt Diaz stepped in to play left field in place of Pierre, and Adeiny Hechavarria led off for the first time as a Marlin.

The 24-year-old shortstop had hit either seventh or eighth all season. But he has put together some quality at-bats the past few days. On Sunday at Philadelphia, he belted a grand slam and matched a franchise record with seven RBIs.

And in Monday's 5-0 loss at San Diego, he ripped a double to right field.

"Wherever they put me, I'm fine," Hechavarria said. "They can put me first, second, seventh or eighth, I'm fine."

Hechavarria recently returned from the disabled list, where he was out with a bruised right elbow.

Tuesday is his sixth game since being reinstated.

"He's been swinging the bat well," manager Mike Redmond said. "I like his at-bats. We talked in Spring Training about him being a top-of-the-order guy. Why not? Let's get him up there and get him at the top of the order.

"The one thing about hitting him eighth is we don't really get to see his speed. He can really run. Hopefully tonight, he can get on base a couple of times, and we'll see him run."

Of late, Hechavarria has shown power to all fields, which will be critical in his development.

"That's something you need to do to have success in the big leagues," Redmond said. "Those pitchers are going test you, and they're going to test you with off-speed. They're going to test you away, and pound you in. You always have to make the adjustments."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter