MIAMI -- Making spectacular plays look routine, and routine plays look spectacular, has been common practice for Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
The 24-year-old is winding down his first full year in the big leagues in style. Seemingly on a nightly basis, Hechavarria has dazzled with his glove.
Perhaps his defining night came Sept. 18 at Philadelphia, when he made a leaping grab on Cody Asche's liner. Later, he preserved the lead with a diving stop and quick throw to first to rob Roger Bernadina of what would have been an RBI single.
There have been several other terrific plays before and since.
"His defense has been off the charts," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.
As much praise as Hechavarria has garnered, Redmond still feels the Cuban-born shortstop doesn't get his due.
"He doesn't get a whole lot of publicity down here with how good he has been defensively," Redmond said. "He definitely deserves it. I know I'm biased, but I don't know if there is a better shortstop in the league than him. He's that good. He's meant so much to our team, our defense and our pitching staff."
Hechavarria has a .977 field percentage after Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Phillies, and his 14 errors are the same as Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons, a favorite to win the NL Gold Glove at short. Simmons has a .981 fielding percentage, having played in seven more games.
Hechavarria had his chances for a Gold Glove diminished when he made five errors in a stretch of 11 games from Aug. 14-25.
Overall, he has come as advertised in the field.
At the plate, he is a work in progress, though he drove in three runs, including two on his team-leading eighth triple of the year, on Wednesday. Transitioning from the American League after breaking in last year with Toronto, Hechavarria is batting .230 with 14 doubles and three home runs. The Marlins believe in time he will emerge as a far better offensive player.
"I think he's a guy who will hit for power," Redmond said. "I'm not saying he's a guy who will hit 20 home runs, but I think that will come as he gets more and more experience in the big leagues.
"He's had such a great year, defensively, especially. But offensively, he's come a long way."
Yelich raking as season draws to close
MIAMI -- Christian Yelich is finishing his rookie season in a flurry.
The 21-year-old, who debuted in the big leagues in late July, is enjoying his finest month.
The left-handed-hitting left fielder is batting .318 with two homers and seven RBIs in 24 games in September after going 0-for-3 with a walk in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Phillies, when he hit third. He's also showing plate discipline, posting a .408 on-base and .443 slugging percentage in the month.
For the season, the rookie is batting .282, and he's getting steady playing time against lefties and righties alike.
"We've talked about the frontline players, the guys who play every day," manager Mike Redmond said. "They play whether it's right-handers or left-handers out there. It doesn't matter. I think his at-bats have been great. He's faced a lot of tough lefties."
Yelich's overall splits aren't great against lefties. For the season, he's is batting at a .167 clip against southpaws -- after taking on Philly left-hander Cole Hamels and reliever Cesar Jimenez on Wednesday -- compared to .354 against righties.
"I think it's so important for him to keep going out there and getting these at-bats, especially against left-handed pitchers," Redmond said. "That experience is big. You're not going to hit lefties if you don't play against them."
Yelich opened the season in the Minor Leagues and was Miami's second-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, behind Jose Fernandez, before rocketing his way to the Majors.
The Marlins have gone through their growing pains. Yelich, too, is learning. He batted .216 in nine games in July and .275 in 27 games in August.
"You can kind of learn from it," Yelich said. "It's still not a lost year. There are some guys in here who have gotten some experience, and kind of learned what it's like to play in the big leagues. You can take that into the offseason and kind of build on it."
Mathis sits with bruised right thumb
MIAMI -- For most of the month, Jeff Mathis has been bothered by a bruised right thumb.
On Wednesday afternoon, the veteran catcher informed manager Mike Redmond that the finger was hampering him once again.
With Mathis experiencing discomfort, Koyie Hill made the start in the series finale against the Phillies. Hill went 0-for-3 with a walk in the 3-2 win.
Mathis initially jammed his thumb while attempting to block a Henderson Alvarez pitch on Sept. 9 in a 5-2 loss to the Braves. The play took place in the fourth inning, and Mathis actually stayed in the game a few more innings, and had one more at-bat, before he was replaced.
Mathis sat out until Sept. 16, and he is 1-for-23 in his seven games since. Miami is off on Thursday, so Mathis will have two days to rest before the weekend series with Detroit.
"Hopefully, it's just a one-day thing or two-day thing," Redmond said.
The Marlins close out their season beginning Friday night against the Tigers at Marlins Park.
Hill and Rob Brantly are options to catch if Mathis is unable to return.
"We've played a lot of games here, and he's been grinding pretty good," Redmond said. "We hope, with the day off, he will be back. We'll see."