Martin Prado will miss Opening Day.
And it’s unclear how long it will take for him to return to the Marlins’ lineup.
Prado underwent an MRI on Saturday that revealed a Grade 1 strain to his right hamstring, an injury he sustained last week while playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
Prado, 33, hopes to be back with the team some time during the first month of the season, but even that isn’t a certainty.
“I want to make sure that I’m 100 percent and not trying to rush this,” Prado said. “First of all, I just have to get pain-free running. That’s our main goal now and after that be strong enough to hold up with a healthy hamstring.”
Prado was injured running up the first-base line after hitting a ground ball up the middle during the sixth inning of Venezuela’s game Wednesday night against the United States.
Prado said Sunday in Jupiter that he had not felt any pain or discomfort prior to the play. Prado also said he had a slight strain in his upper right calf.
“It was one of those things where I hit a ground ball up the middle,” Prado said. “Once I was halfway to first base I felt a pinch like a needle in my hamstring. While I was slowing down I felt it even more.
“I knew at that point something was wrong because you don’t feel that kind of pain normally.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he didn’t have a timeframe on Prado’s return and the Marlins want to be cautious since the effects of hamstring injuries can often linger for some time.
“We’re going to get him healthy and make sure he’s healthy,” Mattingly said.
“Hopefully, when he’s at full strength then we move forward with this thing knowing there’s a lot of baseball over the course of the summer.”
Prado said he was relieved after finding out the prognosis although disappointed he could potentially miss the early part of the season.
“I was worried because I didn’t know exactly what was going on with my leg,” Prado said.
“I was just disappointed because I felt like I let my teammates down and let the Marlins down because I couldn’t come home healthy. I wasn’t sleeping. I was worried about myself, my team and the future.”
Prado played left field during Wednesday’s game but said he didn’t think that led to his injury in any way. Prado had never experienced any issues with his right hamstring.
The Marlins extended Prado’s contract in the offseason for three years and $40 million.
Prado hit .305 with eight home runs and 75 RBI last season and started 146 games at third base. He made only nine errors, finishing tied for the fewest among National League third basemen, and his .972 fielding percentage ranked third.
Despite the injury, Prado didn’t regret playing in the WBC and enjoyed representing his country.
“It was fun and it was intense,” Prado said.
“It’s hard to believe at this time of year how intense those games can get. Even during the regular season, you don’t get this kind of intensity for games because it’s every day. But in [WBC], it’s a short competition and every game matters. You have to get locked in for every at-bat.”
With Prado’s injury, Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas figure to get the most reps at third base to replace their valued former All-Star.
Dietrich played third base in 13 games last season and did not make an error. He has played 40 games at third base during his career with five errors.
Rojas played third in 16 games last season, also without committing an error, and has played the position in 48 games during his career with four errors.
As far as any potential roster moves to compensate for Prado’s absence, Mattingly said the team will wait until the end of spring training and see how Prado is progressing by that point.
“Discussions have already started on different scenarios,” Mattingly said.
“When we get to the end of camp we should have a pretty good estimate on how long Martin will be out and part of our decision-making process [as far as the roster] will depend on how Martin is going into the season.”
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Stephen Fife at Atlanta Braves (TBA), 1:05 p.m., Orlando.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen vs. Houston Astros RHP Mike Fiers, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.