LOS ANGELES -- An aging, veteran pitcher who is trying to make a comeback from his second Tommy John operation will be replacing a young star, Jose Fernandez, who is preparing for his first.
The Marlins signed 37-year-old left-hander Randy Wolf on Wednesday.
“If Jose doesn’t get hurt, it doesn’t happen,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.
The Marlins signed Wolf to a one-year deal worth $1 million after the left-hander opted out of his minor-league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“Even though I’m 37 and I’ve had quite a bit of time in the big leagues, it kind of feels like a first-time call-up,” said Wolf, who has spent 14 seasons in the majors with six different teams.
With rookie Anthony DeSclafani set to make his major-league debut late Wednesday against the Dodgers, the Marlins are being vague about Wolf’s role, saying only that he will be available out of the bullpen initially.
But it’s expected he will end up in the starting rotation, and probably sooner rather than later.
“He’ll work out of the pen [Wednesday night], and then we’ll reassess,” Hill said.
Wolf owns a career record of 132-117 with a 4.20 ERA in 376 games, 368 of those as a starter. But he missed the entire 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time.
“The only thing that crossed my mind was to give it another chance,” Wolf said of his decision to attempt a second comeback after Tommy John, especially at an older age. “The one thing I’m really against is living your life with any kind of regret.”
Wolf, clearly, is not Fernandez’s caliber as a pitcher. Few are.
But he understands what the loss of Fernandez means to the Marlins, and what the young pitcher will be facing over the coming months as he works his way back to the mound.
“Trust me, I’ve been there,” Wolf said. “I’ve done it a couple of times. I could tell [that losing Fernandez] was not only a physical blow to the team, but also kind of an emotional blow to the team.”
Wolf spent spring training with the Seattle Mariners and was told he had made the team’s starting rotation. But he refused to sign a 45-day opt-out clause and ended up hooking on with the Diamondbacks. He went 5-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts for Reno (Nevada), the Diamondbacks’ Triple A affiliate, when the Marlins went after him.
“He’s a stabilizer,” Hill said.
Wolf said he can still pitch successfully.
“When I was 23 years old, I threw 86 to 91 miles an hour, and so far I’ve been 86 to 91 miles an hour,” he said of his velocity.
He said he’s glad the Marlins no longer play at Dolphin Stadium, where the fair-complected pitcher said he often struggled in the South Florida heat. He had a record of 2-5 with a 6.55 ERA at the Marlins’ old home.
He’s probably also pleased that Mike Redmond is his manager and no longer an opposing hitter. Redmond went 7 for 22 with a pair of home runs off Wolf.
“Gees, I remember coming up through Double A together — against each other,” Redmond said. “He was with the Reading Phillies, and I was with the Portland Sea Dogs, so I guess we go way back.”
• With Jarrod Saltalamacchia mired in the longest offensive slump of his career — 22 consecutive at-bats without a hit and a dozen strikeouts — Redmond gave the catcher the night off on Wednesday.
Saltalamacchia’s previous longest hitless drought was 21 at-bats. He has gone 0 for 19 on the road trip.
“It’s been just trying to slow the game down a little bit, see the ball better,” Saltalamacchia said. “Been working with [hitting coach Frank Menechino], trying to get something figured out. I don’t feel like I’ve been pitched to any differently. I’ve been kind of chasing balls out of the zone, which is not like me.”
Saltalamacchia is a microcosm of the Marlins’ home and road disparity. He has a .340 average at Marlins Park but only a .120 average on the road, where he has struck out in half of his at-bats.
“I hope I’m the reason,” Saltalamacchia said of the Marlins’ great home record but awful road mark. “That means if I can figure it out, we can all figure it out. If there’s an explanation for it, I think we’d all change and do better. I honestly don’t know what the reason is.”
• Thursday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2-1, 2.86 ERA) at San Francisco Giants RHP Matt Cain (0-3, 4.25), 10:15 p.m., AT&T Park.
• Friday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.33) at Giants RHP Tim Hudson (4-2, 2.09), 10:15 p.m., AT&T Park.