MILWAUKEE -- For weeks, Adeiny Hechavarria's batting average has been on the rise. Now, his spot in the batting order is trending upward, as well.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond moved Hechavarria into the leadoff spot Saturday after hitting primarily at the bottom of the order for much of the season.
In Friday's 2-0 loss to the Brewers, Hechavarria had three hits, elevating his batting average to .248. It's still a modest number, but more impressive considering he was at .203 on June 30.
Since July 1, Hechavarria's .444 average is the highest in the Majors.
With the Marlins struggling to score, Redmond felt the timing was right to move the shortstop to the top of the order.
Hechavarria is respected for his hard work and commitment to improving with hitting coach Tino Martinez.
"He's worked so hard with Tino on his approach," Redmond said. "Tino has put in a lot of hours in the cage with him, and you're starting to see the results. You can see his confidence when he goes up to the plate."
The Marlins are looking to energize the top of the order.
Miami's leadoff batters are averaging .220 with a .272 on-base percentage. Those figures rank 29th out of 30 teams.
A rookie obtained from the Blue Jays last November, Hechavarria is a standout defensively. Offense will continue to be a work in progress. The Marlins believe it may take a few years before they see the best the 24-year-old can offer at the plate.
"Hopefully, he will be able to keep grinding out his at-bats," Redmond said. "He's got speed. He can run. He can do a lot of things. Hopefully, now we can see that offensive side of his game come out."
Young Marlins turn back clock on Saturday
MILWAUKEE -- The youthful Marlins took a step back in time on Saturday.
As a tribute to the Negro Leagues, the Marlins and Brewers each wore throwback replica uniforms for the middle of their three-game series at Miller Park.
The Marlins sported uniforms worn by the 1956 Miami Marlins, and each jersey had a patch with the No. 29 on it in honor of Satchel Paige.
The legendary Paige played three seasons for the Marlins, from 1956-58.
The Brewers wore reproductions of uniforms worn by the 1923 Milwaukee Bears, a member of the Negro National League.
Two Hall of Fame Marlins radio broadcasters got to meet Paige, who pitched into his upper 50s.
Felo Ramirez, the club's Spanish play-by-play announcer for Radio Mambi (WAQI 710 AM), saw Paige pitch in Havana, Cuba, which had an International League team in the 1950s.
Ramirez was the 2001 Ford C. Frick Award winner, which is recognized in the Hall of Fame.
Ramirez, who recently turned 90, also recalls seeing Paige when he was a pitching coach in Atlanta.
Ramirez recalled when Paige pitched against Connie Marrero in an International League game. A rocking chair was placed next to the dugout for the two old pitchers to sit in when they weren't pitching.
"It was the funniest thing," Ramirez said in Spanish. "It was a great show. One would pitch and the other would sit in the rocking chair.
"Even with all the years he had, he was a master, complete control. He threw relatively hard. At least he threw harder than Marrero."
Dave Van Horne, play-by-play announcer for the Marlins on 790 The Ticket, was the 2011 Ford C. Frick Award recipient.
When Van Horne was broadcasting the Richmond Braves from 1966-68, he had a chance to interact with Paige.
The Richmond Braves were playing an exhibition against the Atlanta Braves, and Paige was pitching that day.
Van Horne was asked to pick Paige up at the airport in Richmond and drive him to the ballpark.
"I had about 50 questions I wanted to ask him, but I didn't ask one, because he talked the whole ride," Van Horne said.
Innings limit won't alter Fernandez's usage
MILWAUKEE -- The range remains the same, and so is how the Marlins plan to use rookie phenom Jose Fernandez in the second half.
If all goes as planned, Fernandez will finish his rookie season throwing somewhere between 150-170 innings.
Right now, he's at 104 2/3 innings in 18 starts prior to the All-Star break. Fernandez will make his first post-break appearance on Tuesday at Colorado.
"We're going to use him the way we have," manager Mike Redmond said. "We're going to use him the way we have the whole year until those innings dry up. If he has a chance to pitch late in the game, he's going to pitch late in the game."
The simple formula is for Fernandez to average six innings over 10 starts in the second half. That would get him to 164 2/3 innings.
But Redmond added the Marlins will not necessarily put the brakes on any start in which the rookie could go longer than six innings.
"We're not going to pull him out early because we want to save his innings," Redmond said. "In every one of his starts, we're going to try to win. Based on how he throws and how his pitches are, and how his innings look, or how his pitch count is during the game.
"If he's able to throw seven or eight innings, he's going to throw seven or eight innings until he reaches that mark."
The Marlins are closely monitoring their hard-throwing right-hander, who turns 21 on July 31.
Fernandez made the leap to the big leagues without pitching higher than Class A. A year ago, he threw 134 innings total between Low A Greensboro and Advanced A Jupiter. And he reached the big leagues with 138 1/3 Minor League innings, counting 2011.
The Marlins aren't planning on skipping starts over the next few weeks in order for Fernandez to pitch into late September.
"We'll find out exactly where that mark is as we go," Redmond said. "I'll think we'll stick to that."