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Young Blue Jay Hechavarria learning to cover all the bases

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Adeiny Hechavarria throws the ball to first to close the second inning against the Chicago White Sox during MLB action in Toronto Thursday August 16, 2012.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Adeiny Hechavarria has been heralded as the Toronto Blue Jays' shortstop of the future ever since they signed the Cuban to a four-year, $10-million (U.S.) contract as a 20-year-old in 2010.

How does second baseman of the future grab you?

The Blue Jays aren't making any such official proclamations yet what with 49 games still left to play following Sunday's lethargic 11-2 loss to the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre.

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With all the injuries the American League club has endured this season just having nine healthy bodies on the field is considered a victory these days.

First baseman David Cooper is the latest casualty, a late scratch from Sunday's starting lineup with lower back tightness.

Still, it was interesting to see manager John Farrell give Hechavarria his first start at second base on Sunday since his minor-league call-up on Aug. 4 in place of Kelly Johnson, who has been the regular at that position all season.

Yunel Escobar, whose continued tenure at shortstop is considered cloudy with the new kid on the block, got the start at short.

Hechavarria is not a total neophyte at second, having received some training there beginning at spring training with eight games to follow at the Triple-A level.

"Looking forward to seeing that combination," Farrell said before the game about the middle infield tandem of Hechavarria and Escobar. "Whether or not that's a glimpse into the future, I mean that's a potential."

With the way that Johnson has struggled at the plate all season, a steady diet of Hechavarria at second base for the rest of the season might not be a bad option.

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Johnson entered play on Sunday hitting .228, with his 126 strikeouts the ninth highest total in the major leagues.

At the rate he is going, Johnson is a good bet to eradicate the Blue Jays' single-season high for strikeouts of 159 set in 1998 by Jose Canseco. Johnson is on pace to finish the year with 180 K's.

Johnson is a free agent at the end of the season and it is quite likely his two-year spell as a Blue Jay has run its course.

It makes sense to give as much playing time to Hechavarria for the rest of the season to help determine where he'll fit in – and at what position – for next year.

Hechavarria wasn't really involved in Sunday's game, along were the rest of his teammates, during the rout by the Rangers, who outhit Toronto 19-2, including seven doubles and two home runs.

Lefty Matt Harrison (14-7) was dominating in his starting role for the Rangers, stifling the Blue Jays on just two runs off two hits over eight innings. Two of those hits came off the bat of Mike McCoy, who had his first home run of the season and drove in both of the Toronto runs.

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Henderson Alvarez (7-11) got the start for the Blue Jays and has now lost four consecutive games after getting shelled for eight of the Texas runs off 12 hits over 4 1/3innings. The runs and hits allowed represented career highs for the 22-year-old.

Alvarez was not available to discuss his performance afterwards.

A Blue Jays official said Alvarez had learned of a death in the family before the game, which could explain his difficulties on the field. Still, with his recent struggles you now have to wonder if Alvarez might be the pitcher the Blue Jays will decide to demote this coming weekend with the anticipated return of Brandon Morrow.

After the game the Blue Jays announced they were optioning Yan Gomes back to Triple-A. A corresponding roster move will be made on Tuesday where the Blue Jays are expected to promote catcher Yorvit Torrealba.

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