The longest game in Marlins Park history resulted in a quick trip to the majors for Jarlin Garcia.
Needing fresh relief help after dueling with the Mets for 16 innings that lasted five hours and 38 minutes, the Marlins optioned Nick Wittgren after the game to Triple A New Orleans and called up Garcia from Double A Jacksonville.
Wittgren, who threw three scoreless innings in the 9-8 loss Thursday, was the Marlins’ only possible candidate to make room on the roster since he still had minor-league options.
“Nick’s kind of a casualty of this type of a game,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We’re just in a bind because you have to have guys to throw innings.
Never miss a local story.
“You ask a lot of those guys and you never know if you’re going to end up in another one like that the next night.”
Garcia, the club’s No. 4 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, had pitched four innings without giving up a run so far this season at Jacksonville. The 24-year old lefty, born in the Dominican Republic, was called up last season to the major-league level from May 15-18, but never pitched in a game before being sent back down.
“Things happen you can’t control, but I kept a positive outlook and just waited for my turn,” Garcia said.
Garcia could last longer this time around if he has success against left-handed bats being the team’s only lefty reliever thus far this season.
Garcia made his major-league debut on Friday pitching a scoreless sixth inning. He walked Jose Reyes to lead off the inning, and Reyes reached third on a bunt by Noah Syndergaard. Garcia proceeded to strike out Rene Rivera and induce a pop-up from Curtis Granderson to end the inning.
Garcia, who started nine games last year with Jacksonville and went 1-3 with a 4.54 ERA, said he felt more prepared this time around after having pitched in the Arizona Fall League, in the Dominican Republic in the winter and after another spring training camp.
“I have to thank [pitching coaches] Juan Nieves and Jim Benedict,” Garcia said. “They kept a plan for me and told me to stay focused and worry about driving off my back leg on the mound and that’s been helping improve my pitches.”
With seven relievers used and closer A.J. Ramos unavailable, the Marlins turned to Adam Conley in the 16th inning of Thursday’s loss forcing them to push his next scheduled start to Saturday.
The Marlins’ day off last Monday kept Edinson Volquez on regular rest and allowed him to fill in for Conley on Friday. With the move, the Marlins were able to keep the rest of their rotation lined up as it had been before.
▪ Adeiny Hechavarria (oblique strain) fielded ground balls during pregame warmups on Friday and appeared to be moving well. Hechavarria said he hopes to be ready to participate in rehab games as early as Monday in Jupiter, which may give him a chance to return to action some time during the team’s upcoming road trip.
▪ Martin Prado (hamstring strain) played his third consecutive rehab game in Jupiter Friday night. If Prado has no setbacks, Mattingly said he could be available as early as Monday when the Marlins play the Mariners in Seattle.
THIS AND THAT
In addition to being the longest game at Marlins Park, Thursday’s contest matched the fourth-longest game in franchise history in terms of innings.
▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (0-0, 1.50), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-1, 7.56 ERA) vs. Mets RHP Matt Harvey (2-0, 2.92), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.