The St. Louis Cardinals had Andrew Heaney seeing red on Saturday, blistering the rookie to the tune of five runs — including back-to-back homers — in only 3 2/3 innings. Afterward, Heaney was seeing pink — as in a pink slip.
Following yet another disappointing outing by the young lefty, the Marlins demoted Heaney back to Triple A New Orleans.
“I’m not going to feel sorry for myself,” Heaney said after receiving the news. “I’m going to try to get better. I want to be back up here. I have stuff I need to work on. That wasn’t the best me I can be.”
In four starts, Heaney went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA. Had the Marlins not rallied to win Saturday, Heaney would have become the first pitcher in Marlins history to lose his first four major-league starts.
“This guy was in [Single A] Jupiter last year,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of Heaney, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2012. “We want to make sure he’s confident and right.”
Redmond said that with an off day coming up Thursday, the plan was to skip Heaney’s next turn in the rotation anyway. Now, the Marlins plan on getting to the All-Star break with four starters, as Tom Koehler is set to rejoin the team on Monday in Arizona following the birth of his first child.
Heaney struggled to throw strikes Saturday, walking three batters in the first two innings while hitting another with a pitch. But he suffered major damage in the fourth when he gave up four runs, all of them scoring with two outs.
One pitch after Allen Craig took him deep for a two-run homer, Jhonny Peralta followed with a solo shot that caromed high up the foul pole in left. Despite the poor showings, Redmond said he is confident Heaney will turn out to be a top pitcher in the majors.
“He’s going to be a great pitcher in this league for a long time,” Redmond said. “He’s got great stuff. He just faced probably two of the best teams in baseball [the Cardinals and Athletics]. It was a great learning experience. He knows he can pitch up here. Are there areas he needs to work on? Of course. You can say that about a lot of guys.”• Heaney didn’t travel alone on his way back to New Orleans. The Marlins also optioned outfielder Jake Marisnick on Saturday in order to make room for shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who will be activated from the disabled list in time to play Sunday in St. Louis.
• Reed Johnson was hit by a pitch for the 130th time on Friday, moving him into 26th place on the all-time list. Though Johnson is far behind the major-league record of 285, held by Craig Biggio, his frequency of being plunked ranks near the top of the list.
On average, Johnson has been hit by a pitch once in every 29.92 plate appearances over his career. Of players who have been hit by pitches at least 130 times, only Ron Hunt was hit by pitches more frequently — once in every 25.34 plate appearances. By comparison, Biggio was hit about once in every 44 plate appearances.
While Johnson stands close to the plate, he also said his opposite-field hitting approach has as much to do with getting hit by pitches as anything else.
“My approach and what I’m trying to do at the plate, other teams know that, and they’re going to try to pitch me in a lot,” Johnson said. “It’s the approach of staying on the ball and trying to keep that front shoulder in as long as you can. I think Biggio was the same way. You look at it, and it’s all guys who hit the ball the other way.”
COMING UP• Sunday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (5-3, 2.33 ERA) at St. Louis Cardinals LHP Marco Gonzales (0-1, 9.64), 2:15 p.m., Busch Stadium.
• Monday: Marlins RHP Koehler (6-6, 3.48) at Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Chase Anderson (5-4, 3.91), 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.