So the Rays got a bonus on Friday night when Hechavarria came through with some offense in what proved to be the pivotal moment of a 7-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
• Rays' Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com
"Defense is my specialty and I take pride in that, but I have really started to focus a lot more on my offense, and thank God that it has shown well since I've been working on it," Hechavarria said.
Steven Souza Jr. led off the Rays' third with a homer to tie the score at 1. Evan Longoria followed with a single and Logan Morrison added a double before the Cardinals elected to intentionally walk Corey Dickerson to load the bases for Hechavarria.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha delivered an 88.4-mph changeup and Hechavarria went all in, connecting for a double to left to drive home Longoria and Morrison to put the Rays up 3-1. They never trailed again.
"It felt good, it felt good that I was able to contribute and do something good for the team," said Hechavarria, who went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .249. "I was actually trying to go more up the middle, thinking middle of the field, but it was a changeup so I ended up staying through it and going down to left field."
Rays manager Kevin Cash noted that Hechavarria (aka "La Pantera" for Players Weekend) has made plenty of contributions.
"I know he has been a little quiet at the plate, but we got him for his defense," Cash said. "He has played spectacular defense for us and he's gotten some big hits along the way. Ideally, we'd love to have the bat going.
"He's unique to our offense in general. He's not a guy that strikes out a lot. He puts the ball in play. That complements our lineup because we have a bunch of guys who are capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark, but strikeouts come with that sometimes."
Souza echoed Cash, and the sentiment within the clubhouse, about their shortstop.
"Anything he adds offensively is just a bonus," Souza said. "The big hits that he got today were just icing on the cake."