Giancarlo Stanton returned to the lineup for the first time in a month on Friday, but in an odd slot for a slugger of his caliber: the No. 2 spot.
“I’m ready for three bunts tonight,” Stanton joked.
Stanton was back in right field for the first time since sustaining a groin injury on Aug. 13, but was expected to play no more than six or seven innings as a precaution.
Manager Don Mattingly said Stanton would likely assume a full-time role in a game or two and settle into his customary middle-of-the-order spot in the lineup.
Stanton said he was eager to get back in the lineup and “try to give us that spark” in the Marlins’ uphill push for a Wild Card playoff berth.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Stanton said of the Marlins’ long-shot bid to reach the postseason. “But definitely the opportunity is there. So as long as I can help with that, that’s what I’m here for.”
While Stanton returned to his old spot in right, Mattingly left Christian Yelich in center and moved Marcell Ozuna to left field. Mattingly has said he likes Yelich in center, where he can use his speed and range to cover a lot of territory.
CHEN SET TO RETURN
After missing nearly two months with an elbow injury, Wei-Yin Chen is set to return to the mound and start Monday in Miami.
“I think it’s important for the team and myself,” Chen said. “Hopefully, I can make a contribution to the team.”
Chen went 5-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 19 starts before landing on the disabled list after his start on July 20. He will take rookie Jake Esch’s spot in the rotation.
“We’ll be careful with him for sure,” said Mattingly, adding that Chen might throw only four or five innings his first time out.
But Mattingly said all the starters are on a short leash now, given what’s at stake and a full bullpen. Mattingly said he won’t be afraid to pull his starters early at the first sign of trouble.
“It’s relatively short (leash) with everyone right now, no matter who it would be,” Mattingly said. You just don’t want to let a game get away. It’s the time of year when you have plenty of arms.”
PRAISE FOR DESPAIGNE
Mattingly has a high opinion of 29-year-old Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne, whom the Marlins claimed off waivers on Thursday from the Orioles.
Odrisamer made 16 relief appearances this season for the Orioles, but had made 34 starts for the Padres the two previous seasons when Mattingly managed the Dodgers.
“I’ve seen him pitch a number of times,” Mattingly said. “We know there’s promise there. He pitches from different arm angles and has something to offer.”
Mattingly said Despaigne provides the Marlins with organizational pitching depth going forward.
For now, Mattingly said Despaigne would be used in long relief out of the bullpen.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (4-6, 4.89) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (11-9, 3.76), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Andrew Cashner (5-11, 5.22) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Alec Asher (1-0, 1.46), 1:35 p.m., Citizens Bank Park