Christian Yelich’s strained lower back hasn’t been getting better sitting on the bench.
So on Friday the Marlins sent their starting left fielder to the 15-day disabled list and called up first baseman Justin Bour, a power-hitting left-handed bat, from Triple A New Orleans to replace him.
How bad is Yelich’s back, really? That remains to be seen.
“We’re not sure what’s going on there,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’ll get him checked out and see what’s going on. Hopefully it will be just a short term thing.”
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For Yelich, who signed a seven-year, $49.5 million deal in spring training, its the second time in his career he has gone to the disabled list with a strained lower back. He spent 15 days there in the middle of last June.
After hitting .304 during the team’s opening six-game home stand, Yelich began complaining of back tightness after making a diving catch in left field on the first night of the team’s recent 10-game, 11-day road trip back.
He finished 0-for-4 that night and was 2-for-22 with nine strikeouts (seven in his last nine at-bats) before he was finally was yanked from the lineup last Sunday. Now, he will not be eligible to come off the disabled list until the team’s next three-city road trip gets underway in Washington May 4.
Veteran Ichiro Suzuki, 41, will continue to take the majority of Yelich’s starts while he is out. Suzuki came into Friday’s game hitting .257 with one RBI in 16 games.
“I was thinking about this today ‒ all the times in spring training when I was asked how I was going to get Ichiro into the game, and he’s played every game,” Redmond said with a smile. “I’ll never get that time back.”
Redmond said utility man Reid Brignac, who has just 4 2/3 innings of career outfield experience, would likely be the first guy off the bench to provide depth in the outfield if needed. Donovan Solano (10 games, two starts, 63 innings all in left field) and Jeff Baker (101 games, 76 starts, 591 1/3 innings) have outfield experience as well.
Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive home run against the Phillies on Thursday reached a height of only 46-feet of the ground, the lowest of any of his 158 career homers according to HitTrackerOnline. It came off the barrel at 113.6 miles per hour.
Yet, the one he hit last June off Cubs starter Jason Hammel, which zipped over the wall in right field was still more impressive to Stanton because he went opposite field. That ball came off the bat at 110.7 miles per our and had an apex of 48 feet.
“I don’t know if he can hit it any harder [than he did Thursday],” Redmond said. “But he probably could.”
▪ Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who lost his starting job to rookie J.T. Realmuto on the road trip, was placed on the paternity list Friday. Saltalamacchia is expected to miss a few days, Redmond said.
Jhonatan Solano was called up from the minors to serve as the backup catcher. To make room on the 40-man roster for Solano, left-handed reliever Grant Dayton (0-0, 4.05 ERA in five relief appearances in Triple A) was designated for assignment.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (1-2, 6.75 ERA) vs. Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-1, 4.50), 4:10 p.m.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (1-1, 3.32) vs. Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 3.44), 1:10 p.m.