Marlins notes: Kike Hernandez happy to be in Miami

Kike Hernandez is pleased to be in Miami where he has relatives.

Matt Marton/Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI — When Kike Hernandez stepped to the plate for a pinch-hit appearance during Friday’s game between the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds, a childhood photograph had foreshadowed such an occasion.

Hernandez, who was traded from the Houston Astros at the non-waiver deadline, played for the Marlins as a little leaguer in Puerto Rico.

With just a month of big-league experience, Hernandez has already found himself in another uniform. He found out about the move as he was walking onto the field before Thursday’s batting practice in Houston. In 24 games with the Astros, he hit .284 with four doubles, a triple, a homer and and eight RBI.

The 22-year-old gathered his things and left on a plane for Miami with teammate Jarred Cosart, arriving in South Florida around midnight. He has an aunt and cousins on his dad’s side who live here. Guys he went to school with are in Miami as well.

"I’m really excited to be here," Hernandez said. "A change of scenery. We’re actually joining a winning team, help the team fight for a playoff spot. I was shocked. A little bittersweet. I spent my whole career with the Astros. Never been traded before. So it was a little bittersweet because it was sad to say bye to all those guys, but I’m happy to be a Marlin now."

Though Hernandez grounded out to third during the seventh inning on Friday, Miami sees him playing a role in both the short and long term.

Considered a super utility player, which suits the National League more, Hernandez came up as a shortstop and also saw time at second. He went to the outfield in the minors in emergency situations.

Manager Mike Redmond plans on using him around the field, giving guys like third baseman Casey McGehee and second baseman Jordany Valdespin a quick spell.

"I know he can do a bunch of different things," Redmond said. "Play second, outfield, third. We’ll probably use him in a bunch of different roles. … We’ll just see how it goes. We can double switch with him. He gives us a lot of flexibility."

THE VULTURE

Miami would not have been able to snap its three-game skid on Saturday had it not been for southpaw Mike Dunn’s escape act in the 10th inning.

After Chris Heisey produced a pinch-hit triple off closer Steve Cishek with one out, Dunn entered with speedster Billy Hamilton up to bat. With the infield in, he got the switch-hitting Hamilton and lefty Jay Bruce on consecutive strikeouts.

"Coming into the game in that situation I had a one-track mind with Billy Hamilton," Dunn said. "I couldn’t let him put the ball in play and if he was going to put it in play jam him up and keep it in the infield. I was able luckily enough to get ahead of him, execute the fastballs and had a little room to make a couple pitches out of the zone and get him to chase. Bruce, you have a little more room for error and let him put it in play. Ultimately I got ahead of him and got him to chase with a pitch in the zone, too."

With the walk-off hit by Christian Yelich in the bottom half of the frame, Dunn picked up his ninth win, tying the Marlins single-season record for a reliever also done by Robb Nen (1997) and Edward Mujica (2011).

Upon his arrival back in the clubhouse, the relievers greeted him by flapping their arms to mimic the wings of a vulture stealing wins. Dunn leads the club as well as all major-league relievers in that statistic.

Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez even teased him by saying only 11 more to go for 20 on the season.

"They informed me that last night," Dunn said. "We talked about it before. As long as the W’s going to someone on our team that’s what we’re shooting for. They all make fun of me each time. I told (Bryan) Morris last night I just had to get a little bit of cushion on him being 7-0. However they come they come. I prefer to get holds and let the starters collect all the wins."

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.