Joe Mahoneys first career home run Friday night was an encouraging sign for the Marlins, who picked up the 6-6, 245-pound first baseman off the waiver wire from the Baltimore Orioles in November hoping he could provide some pop from the left side of the plate.
As good as Mahoney has played since coming off the disabled list April 17 (he entered Saturdays game 7 for 25 for a .280 average with one home run and four RBI), manager Mike Redmond said hes still not exactly sure where Mahoneys spot should be in the batting order and if the 26-year-old former Minor-League Player of the Year for the Orioles truly is a cleanup hitter.
The Marlins have been looking for a cleanup hitter to emerge all season, someone to help protect All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who has gotten off to a slow start batting third.
Mahoney, who was slated to play in just his 11th big-league game Saturday, hit just 64 home runs in 2,311 minor league at-bats over seven seasons and has showed a better ability to hit for average (.275) than power. But during batting practice at Marlins Park, he also has showed the capacity to crush balls into the upper deck like he did Friday night when he pummeled a pitch against the Cubs 423 feet for a solo home run.
I want him to be aggressive, Redmond said of the approach he would like for Mahoney to take at the plate. But at the same time, too, he understands the situation were in scoring runs. I think thats what is kind of intriguing about him. Hes got all that pop, but at the same time he can shorten his swing up and punch the ball up the middle, punch the ball the other way.
Mahoney said although he realizes the Marlins are in bad need of some power and protection for Stanton, hes just trying to stay within himself and get into a groove. So far this season hes hit fourth in the order four times. On Saturday, Redmond had him hitting sixth.
Looking for spark
With his team owning the worst record in the majors at 5-18, the worst team batting average (.222) and the fewest homers (seven) in the majors, Redmond was asked if any motivational speakers have been brought in to help shake things up.
I consider myself a motivational speaker because Ive watched Saturday Night Live a couple of times, Redmond said straight-faced. I was actually going to talk to the guys tonight. I was writing some stuff down.
Redmond, of course, was joking. But he said deep down inside he really isnt laughing about the teams struggles. On Saturday, he put out his 22nd different lineup this season hoping to find a spark for the offense.
• Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria continues to show signs of progress in his return from a bruised right elbow and will play in rehab games in Single A Jupiter Monday and Tuesday before hitting the road with the Marlins as long as he doesnt have any setbacks, Redmond said. Hechavarria is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday when the Marlins open up a four-game series in Philadelphia.
• Right-hander Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) threw 45 pitches in a simulated game Saturday and will throw 60 pitches in his first rehab game Thursday in Jupiter, Redmond said.
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 3.81 ERA) vs. Chicago Cubs RHP Carlos Villanueva (1-0, 1.53), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Monday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (0-2, 4.50) vs. New York Mets RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.54), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: Nolasco is 4-2 with a 2.85 ERA in nine appearances against the Cubs, the team which drafted him, including 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts at home. Villanueva hasnt faced the Marlins since 2010 but is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 10 games in two starts against them all time.