MIAMI — Matchups may determine who next gets the save opportunity for the Marlins.
Steve Cishek, who has five of Miami’s six saves, has struggled, especially against left-handed hitters. So, for now, Cishek isn’t automatically getting the call to close first.
Chad Qualls polished off the ninth inning in a non-save situation for the Marlins on Monday night in their 5-1 victory over the Phillies. But had it been a save chance, Qualls was coming in. He began warming up when it was a 2-1 game before Miami scored three times in the eighth.
“We’d used [Cishek] a couple of days, and we’re trying to get him into some situations, get him more consistent than he’s been,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Qualls hadn’t pitched in five days, and we were planning on using him tonight anyway. It just worked out that we could use him in the ninth.”
Qualls last had a save in 2010 when he was with the D-backs. He had 12 that season, and 24 in 2009 in Arizona.
Pressed on who is the closer, Redmond was more direct: “We’re going to use everybody. We’re going to use Cishek. We’ll use Qualls. We haven’t had that many save opportunities, and we need those guys to pitch. And we need Cishek to go down there and log some innings. He’s still going to close games. Qualls might close some games. [Mike] Dunn might close some games. We need these guys to pitch. We need them to stay sharp. They’re all going to contribute.”
Dunn wasn’t available on Monday because he has been used in setup situations of late, and on Sunday, he logged the save after Cishek was lifted with two outs in a 2-1 win over Arizona.
“We were trying to stay away from Dunn tonight,” Redmond said. “He pitched four out of five games, so we were trying to give him a break tonight.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins are dealing with yet another injury.
On Monday afternoon, the team placed Matt Diaz on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee bone contusion. Filling Diaz’s roster spot is Jordan Brown, who had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans.
Diaz has seen minimal playing time since being selected from New Orleans on May 2. In 10 games, the 35-year-old has appeared in 10 games and is 3-for-18 (.167).
Diaz was a right-handed bat off the bench option who could play left field. Now, the club has added another left-handed bat in Brown.
Brown has been used mostly at first base at New Orleans, and he also is an option for left field. He is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2010.
Brown, 29, has 26 games of MLB experience while with the Indians in ’10. He batted .230 in 87 at-bats with seven doubles and two RBIs.
The California native was a fourth-round pick of Cleveland in 2005.
At New Orleans, Brown is hitting .261 with six doubles, one home run and 12 RBIs in 37 games.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Scoring runs hasn’t been the only problem at the plate for the Marlins. Staying out of double plays has been another.
Three times in Friday’s 9-2 loss to the D-backs, the Marlins bounced into double plays. And on Thursday, the team has a bases-loaded, one-out situation thwarted by an inning-ending double play in a loss to the Reds.
“It’s the cycle that we’re in,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Every time it seems like we get into an RBI situation, we ground into a double play. It’s guys coming off the bench, it’s guys in the game, it’s the same thing. It’s frustrating, obviously, when you’re sitting there watching it.”
The Marlins now have grounded into 43 double plays, which is the third most in the Majors. The Angels are first with 46, followed by the D-backs (44).
The difference is Los Angeles and Arizona have had substantially more at-bats — 1,465 and 1,446, respectively. Miami has 1,392 at-bats.
“I know the guys are frustrated,” Redmond said. “Believe me, nobody wants to ground into a double play when they’ve got a chance to drive in a run. At the same time, too, I’m running out of words. We’ve been talking about the same thing almost the whole year. At the end of the day guys have to step up and start driving in runs. That’s their job. Their job is to drive those guys in. If not, you know the situation there.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — After losing 9-2 to the D-backs on Friday night, the Marlins made a couple of roster moves.
Reliever Jon Rauch was designated for assignment, and lefty reliever Duane Below was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.
Miami has dropped six straight, and in relief on Friday Rauch was charged with two runs on four hits in one inning.
Rauch made 15 appearances and he was 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.
Below, 27, has MLB experience as a reliever with the Tigers. A year ago, he was 2-1 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 relief appearances at the big league level.
The lefty made four starts for New Orleans, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.38 ERA with 15 strikeouts and six walks in 21 1/3 innings.
– Joe Frisaro
LOS ANGELES — Marlins infielder Chris Valaika, who fractured his left wrist on Tuesday at San Diego, underwent successful surgery on Friday at the University of Miami Hospital
Valaika suffered a break to the tip of his radius bone in the eighth inning on Tuesday. He returned to Miami, where it was determined he needed surgery. Dr. Patrick Owens performed the procedure, inserting two pins in his wrist.
There is a chance Valaika could be done for the season. He will need four to six weeks to recover from the surgery, and about that time additionally to build back up.
Also on Friday, manager Mike Redmond announced Tom Koehler will be replacing Wade LeBlanc in the rotation.
Koehler, who had been in the bullpen, will make his first start of the season on Sunday in the series finale at Los Angeles. LeBlanc joins the bullpen, where he provides a second lefty.
Alex Sanabia, who exited Tuesday’s game at San Diego in the fifth inning wit a tight right groin, will be pushed back one day. With the team off on Monday, Ricky Nolasco will start on Tuesday at Marlins Park against the Reds. Sanabia will go on Wednesday.
Jeff Mathis, on rehab assignment with Double-A Jacksonville, could join the Marlins as early as Tuesday in Miami. The veteran catcher broke his right collarbone on Feb. 23, in Miami’s first Grapefruit League game.
Logan Morrison, being used as a designated hitter in extended spring games, went 2-for-3 with a home run, single and walk on Friday in Jupiter.
– Joe Frisaro
LOS ANGELES — In his last start, Jose Fernandez gave a glimpse of what the future may look like.
The 20-year-old sensation struck out nine and allowed one hit over seven shutout innings while collecting his first big league win. The impressive outing last Sunday against the Phillies was a reminder of why Fernandez is so highly regarded.
In six big league starts, Fernandez has 32 strikeouts in 31 innings.
On Friday night, the rookie takes the mound in the series opener at the Dodgers.
The Marlins are looking to get back on the winning track after they were swept in three games at San Diego. Los Angeles has dropped seven straight. The Dodgers are starting Matt Magill.
1) Pierre LF
2) Hechavarria SS
3) Polanco 3B
4) Ruggiano CF
5) Dobbs 1B
6) Ozuna RF
7) Dietrich 2B
8) Brantly C
9) Fernandez P
– Joe Frisaro
Due to injury, the 23-year-old second base prospect had to make a trip from Jacksonville to San Diego on short notice. The flight was worth it because he was in the starting lineup on Wednesday, and he promises to remain there, at least until Donovan Solano returns from the disabled list.
In Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to the Padres at Petco Park, Dietrich singled in his first big league at-bat, a line drive to right field off Jason Marquis.
He also was immediately tested at second base. San Diego’s leadoff batter, Everth Cabrera, scorched a liner right at Dietrich, who handled the hot shot, to open the bottom of the first inning.
“That helped, actually,” Dietrich said. “Getting that first line drive, making the play. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better to get things rolling.”
The single to open the third inning also got his first hit out of the way.
“That’s kind of how you dream about it, getting it going right off the bat there,” he said. “Just going in, I felt great, I felt comfortable right from the get-go. No nerves. I was pretty surprised. It felt like just another day playing baseball, but on a bigger stage, and a great group of guys.”
The Marlins lost the game but they began the process of grooming one of their top young talents. Dietrich is Miami’s No. 8-ranked prospect, according to MLB.com.
Acquired from the Rays in December for Yunel Escobar, the plan initially was to give him about a half a season at Double-A Jacksonville. That changed late Tuesday night when Chris Valaika fractured his left wrist.
Valaika will need four to six weeks for the bone to properly heal. So he could be out two or more months.
After Valaika’s injury, Dietrich received a call about 2 a.m. ET to head to the West Coast. At 6 a.m., he was on a plane headed for Atlanta to make his connection to San Diego.
With the Suns, he was mostly being used at second base, but he did play about five games at third. The Marlins will have some tough decisions to make when Solano returns from his left intercostal strain.
“Actually, the last five games I’ve played [at Jacksonville] were at third base,” Dietrich said. “But I’ve played mostly second base until recently. I feel great out there at both positions. I just want to get in the lineup, and hit. and help the team defensively however I can help the team.”
Dietrich comes from a baseball family. His grandfather is former big leaguer, Steve Demeter, who also coached and managed in the Minor Leagues.
His grandfather was Dietrich’s baseball mentor.In early February, Demeter passed away.
During Wednesday’s game, on the scoreboard in San Diego, they noted a couple of facts about Dietrich, who possesses the skill of juggling multiple baseballs at one time.
“One time they mentioned juggling, which was pretty cool,” Dietrich said. “The other time they said, ‘He is the grandson of former Major Leaguer, Steve Demeter.’ “
A few years ago, when Dietrich was a sophomore at Georgia Tech, he had a tattoo made on his left wrist that reads, “Let it fly,” advice he often received from his grandfather.
After Demeter passed away just prior to Spring Training, Dietrich updated the tattoo to include the dates of his grandfather’s birth and death.
“I think about him every time I step on the field,” Dietrich said.
– Joe Frisaro
SAN DIEGO — On Wednesday, it was Derek Dietrich’s turn to get the call. But down at Double-A Jacksonville, Christian Yelich is starting to make his case.
Injuries to Donovan Solano (left intercostal strain) and Chris Valaika (broken left wrist) prompted the Marlins to push forward the development of Dietrich, who is getting the chance to start at second base.
Dietrich now joins right fielder Marcell Ozuna and right-hander Jose Fernandez on the big league fast track. In Spring Training, all three were projected to be with Jacksonville at least until June. But injuries changed those plans.
It is only a matter of time before it’s Yelich’s turn. The 21-year-old outfielder opened the season on the disabled list with a foot injury. After a slugging start, he is tearing up Double-A.
After going 2-for-4 with a home run in a win on Wednesday, Yelich has raised his batting average to .343. On Tuesday night, he had five hits, including two triples and a homer.
“Obviously, we like those guys a lot and they’re going to be a part of the future,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “As to when they arrive, I’m not sure.”
Yelich, ranked 13th overall on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect List, now has 67 at-bats at Double-A. The organization is in a transition year, and ideally would rather have their top prospects get more seasoning. But it’s been tough with all the injuries that have occurred at the big league level.
If the Marlins wait until June, they can hold off starting Yelich’s big league service time clock. And more Minor League at-bats certainly are beneficial to all young players.
Yelich is a natural hitter, who pretty much was big league ready in Spring Training. So for now, the team is letting him refine his game at Jacksonville.
Yelich started in center field on Wednesday, and he also can play left field.
Could he get a promotion before June?
“It depends probably on the health of our outfield and how those guys stay together,” Redmond said. “If another guy goes down, you see how it’s going. We’re running out of bodies. These guys would be next in line. He’s doing well. He’s going to be here. It’s just a matter of when.
“The young guys are coming. In Spring Training none of us anticipated this, but at the same time here we are. The young guys are coming. We’ll make that decision as an organization when we feel it’s the right timing. I’m not sure when that’s going to be.”
– Joe Frisaro
SAN DIEGO — Henderson Alvarez’s pitching debut with the Marlins will now come sometime after the All-Star Break, at the earliest.
The Marlins on Tuesday morning announced Alvarez is being transferred to the 60-day disabled list. The transaction was the corresponding move to the club placing second baseman Donovan Solano on the 15-day disabled list with a left intercostal strain. Nick Green had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans.
Miami needed to create 40-man roster space. The team did so by transferring Alvarez to the 60-day DL.
Alvarez opened the season on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. His recovery had a setback recently, and on Monday, he began playing light catch.
The Marlins acquired Alvarez from the Blue Jays last November.
– Joe Frisaro
SAN DIEGO — Justin Ruggiano took a couple for the team on Sunday, and the center fielder also delivered a couple of shots of his own.
In Miami’s 14-2 rout of the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, Ruggiano earned an interesting distinction. He is just the eighth player since the early 1900s to get hit twice by pitches and also hit two home runs in the same game.
The last to do so is Ruggiano’s former Tampa Bay teammate, Jonny Gomes in 2010.
Ruggiano joins some exclusive company.
HIT BY PITCH TWICE & HOMER TWICE
Brian Downing 7/28/88
Jonny Gomes 6/12/10
Harmon Killebrew 5/2/59
Justin Ruggiano 5/5/13
Al Smith 6/21/61
Barry Bonds 5/21/91
Don Buford 5/31/71
Carlton Fisk 7/5/84
– Joe Frisaro