Marlins Notebook

First base no joking matter for Miami Marlins

 

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

Abbott and Costello’s classic comedy skit Who’s on First? is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The Marlins have their own “Who’s on first?” identity crisis, and it’s not a laughing matter.

Casey Kotchman will become the third Marlins first baseman to go on the disabled list — joining Logan Morrision and Joe Mahoney — after straining his left hamstring Wednesday while running out a ground ball, and the Marlins don’t have a logical candidate to take over in their absence.

“I heard a pop probably two to three strides before the bag, kept running, and when I got to the bag, I went down,” Kotchman said.

The injury left the Marlins in a tough spot. They don’t have any other everyday first basemen on their 40-man roster, so there’s no obvious choice they can call up from the minors to fill the position.

On Thursday, reserve infielder Greg Dobbs started at first and figures to receive the bulk of the playing time there until either Kotchman or someone else returns from their injuries. Mahoney, who is out with an oblique strain, is thought to be about seven to 10 days away from returning. Morrison (knee surgery) is expected back in May.

“Right now, ‘Dobber’ is going to play quite a bit of first base,” manager Mike Redmond said of Dobbs, who has started a total of 37 games at first during his major-league career.

Redmond said Austin Kearns (one previous major-league start at first base), backup catcher Miguel Olivo (inserted as a late-inning substitution at first base in five games) and reserve infielder Chris Valaika (no first-base experience at either the minor- or major-league level) could also serve in a pinch.

“Usually, first base, it doesn’t seem like it’s a tough position to fill,” Redmond said. “You think of all the positions, you usually have a ton of first basemen. So it’s odd that we’re sitting here talking about three injured first baseman already this spring. It’s definitely been a challenge.”

Kotchman will be placed on the DL on Friday, at which time the Marlins will make a corresponding move, perhaps calling up another position player — though not someone capable of playing first, necessarily. The only uninjured position players on the 40-man roster are outfielder Kyle Jensen and catcher Kyle Skipworth.

The Marlins could also bring in a nonroster player, but that would mean removing someone from the 40-man and exposing him to waivers, something that president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said he is reluctant to do.

The Marlins already lost Evan Reed on a waiver claim made by the Detroit Tigers earlier in the week when the reliever was taken off the 40-man roster to create room for others.

Change of plans

Alex Sanabia figured on starting the season at Triple A New Orleans. Instead, he will be seeking his first major-league victory since 2010 when he takes the mound for the Marlins on Friday when they open a three-game series in New York against the Mets.

Sanabia and rookie Jose Fernandez were thrown into the rotation when Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez were placed on the disabled list. Sanabia was showering following the Zephyrs’ exhibition game Saturday with the Marlins when he was told he would be heading north with the big-league club.

“It definitely was a surprise,” Sanabia said. “I was definitely caught off guard.”

Coming up

•  Friday: Marlins RHP Sanabia (6-7, 4.06 ERA at Triple A New Orleans in 2012) at New York Mets RHP Jeremy Hefner (4-7, 5.09 in 2012), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.

•  Saturday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 3.00) at New York Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (1-0, 2.70), 1:10 p.m., Citi Field.

•  Scouting report: The Marlins went 6-12 against the Mets last season and are 17-19 all-time at Citi Field. As a rookie, the Mets’ Hefner went 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his three appearances (two starts) against the Marlins last season.

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