CINCINNATI -- Joe Mahoney recalls sitting in the opposing dugout and watching Giancarlo Stanton belt mammoth home runs in 2008 when both were in the low minors with different organizations.
“He’s a freak,” Mahoney said.
Five years later, Mahoney hopes to be standing in the on-deck circle when Stanton finally starts connecting. Manager Mike Redmond gave Mahoney his first start Friday and had him batting in the cleanup spot — behind Stanton.
“We don’t have that prototypical No. 4 hitter, and he would be the closest thing to it,” Redmond said of Mahoney, who bats left-handed and provides a “presence” at 6-6 that someone like Placido Polanco does not.
Mahoney hit three home runs in spring training before an oblique injury landed him on the disabled list. He hit 10 home runs in 491 at-bats last season for Triple A Norfolk (Va.) in the Baltimore Orioles’ system.
The low-scoring Marlins could use some pop. They rank last in the majors with four home runs, and Stanton has yet to hit one out. For that matter, Stanton hasn’t even driven in a run.
If Mahoney proves he can generate power, Stanton might start seeing better pitches to hit, unlike those he has been seeing. With a man on second and first base open Thursday, Reds pitcher Tony Cingrani threw four consecutive balls, allowing Stanton to take his walk.
“Last year, if there was a situation like that, there’d at least be a closer pitch or two closer pitches than that,” Stanton said.
Said Mahoney: “I hope I can help. Maybe they’ll give him a pitch over the plate.”
Maine sent packing
John Maine struck out the final two hitters he faced Thursday. But it was too little, too late. By then, he had also given up six runs after taking over in relief of Jose Fernandez.
Maine, who coughed up 15 hits and issued five walks in only 71/3 relief innings for the Marlins, was designated for assignment Friday. The Marlins recalled right-handed pitcher Tom Koehler from Triple A New Orleans to take his place.
Redmond said Koehler would be used out of the bullpen, at least initially.
But Koehler could also move into the rotation if Wade LeBlanc, Saturday’s scheduled starter, continues to struggle. Koehler has already made three starts (0-1, 1.06 ERA) for New Orleans and was scheduled to take the mound for the Triple A club Friday before getting called up.
• Saturday: Marlins LHP LeBlanc (0-3, 6.75 ERA) at Cincinnati Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 4.05), 1:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park.
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia (2-1, 4.24) at Reds RHP Homer Bailey (1-1, 3.32), 1:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park.
• Scouting report: LeBlanc has allowed runs — eight all together — in the first inning of all three of his starts. But LeBlanc has fared well at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, where he is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts. The Reds’ Arroyo is 1-4 with a 4.25 ERA in his career against the Marlins.