DENVER -- Outfielder Marcell Ozuna is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday to repair a ligament tear and avulsion fracture in his left thumb. He is likely done for the season.
“I don’t have a definitive time frame,” said Larry Beinfest, Marlins president of baseball operations. “But it’s highly doubtful and improbable that you’ll see him again this season. It’s a minimum six to eight weeks, and then you have to ramp up from there. So we’re going to run out of time this season.”
Ozuna injured the thumb on his glove hand while making a diving catch Monday night at Coors Field. Following the game, the Marlins announced that Ozuna — along with infielder Derek Dietrich — were being optioned to Double A Jacksonville.
But after a Miami hand specialist determined the full extent of the injury, the option was voided and Ozuna was placed on the disabled list. Beinfest said the severity of the injury was unknown when Ozuna was optioned.
“It’s surprising because, when we optioned him Monday night ... he stayed in the game and said he was OK,” Beinfest said.
Beinfest said Ozuna thought he had just jammed his thumb.
“Obviously, it turned out to be a lot more than that, which is unfortunate,” Beinfest said.
By going on the DL, Ozuna will continue to accrue service time to the point he could be in position to qualify for “Super Two” status and become eligible for salary arbitration after the 2015 season. Had Ozuna returned to the minors, it was all but certain his first arbitration year would have been delayed until after the 2016 season.
“Again, he’s a couple of years away from that,” Beinfest said of the arbitration process. “Like any young player, he’s going to have to come out and make the team next year in spring training. Obviously, we have some pretty spirited outfield competition.”
Ozuna became the 15th Marlins player to land on the DL this season.
Promoted in late April after Giancarlo Stanton went on the DL with a hamstring injury, Ozuna got off to a hot start before tailing off in recent weeks, prompting his demotion. Since June 9, when Ozuna had a .331 batting average, he had hit just .195.
“He did a great job,” Beinfest said. “Our intention was for him to go down and work on some things offensively and, sure enough, it’s the way it goes. He makes, really, a game-saving catch and gets hurt.”
Beinfest said it’s possible Ozuna could play winter ball just to make sure the thumb checks out in advance of spring training.
• Infielder Chris Valaika, who was designated for assignment to create space on Miami’s 40-man roster, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple A New Orleans.
What a relief
While the Marlins finished the road trip 3-4, the bullpen was nothing short of sensational. During the seven games, Marlins relievers gave up just two earned runs — the walk-off home run Sunday in Milwaukee off Ryan Webb in the 13th inning and one more Thursday off Kevin Slowey — in a combined 21 innings.
Left-hander Mike Dunn believes there is a simple explanation.
“Lately, everyone’s been fresh, and I would base all the success in our bullpen on our starters pitching deep into games,” Dunn said. “Whenever your starters are going six-plus innings a game, it takes a lot of pressure off the bullpen, to where guys aren’t getting taxed.”
Friday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 3.28 ERA) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates LHP Jeff Locke (9-2, 2.11), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (2-5, 4.38) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Charlie Morton (2-2, 3.35), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: The Pirates have not finished with a winning record since 1992, the year before the Marlins played their first season. But they bring the second-best record in the majors to South Florida for a three-game set as the Marlins open a 10-game homestand that also includes visits by the Mets and Indians.