Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich expects to be back in the lineup when the team opens the second leg of a three-city, 11-day road trip Thursday in San Francisco.
That’s assuming all goes well after he begins a three-day rehab stint Sunday in Jupiter.
Yelich said he has been hitting in the cages for the past three days and hasn’t felt any discomfort in his lower back. He has been on the disabled list since April 20.
ozuna in a zone
Marcell Ozuna admits it has been hard for him to ignore the fact he hasn’t hit a home run yet, but he’s not letting it affect his swing.
“This is the first time in my career I haven’t hit a home run in over 20 games,” said Ozuan, who picked up two more hits Saturday to raise his season average to .321. “The thing is I’m not dwelling on it. I keep looking ahead, working hard. I know the home runs will come.”
Ozuna thought the first ball he hit in the ninth inning Friday was going to be the first home run, but it went foul. After that, he said he just thought about putting the ball in play. He did, doubling home Giancarlo Stanton with the winning run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ozuna’s 4-for-4 night with a walk-off RBI on Friday was the first such game since Jose Bautista did it on May 22, 2013.
After starting the season 6 for 31 with 13 strikeouts and only two RBI in his first nine games, Ozuna has gone 19 for 47 (.404) with six doubles and three RBI over his past 13 games.
"His last week, his at-bats have gotten much better," manager Mike Redmond said. "I know you guys talk about the power, ‘When is he going to hit a homer?’ or whatever. But those will come. We just need him to continue to get big hits in the middle of that order. When he’s able to do that, that’s a good sign for us because we’re scoring runs. We need him to hit in the middle of that order."
▪ When he was a shortstop in high school, J.T. Realmuto practiced flipping balls to second base all the time. As a catcher, the opportunity to flip the ball back to the pitcher covering the plate doesn’t happen often — and when it does it doesn’t usually result in tremendous success like it did Friday.
Tom Koehler’s wild pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth inning Friday ended with Realmuto throwing a perfect ball back to Koehler, who applied the tag to Ryan Howard for the final out of the frame. It was a game-changing out, as the Marlins rallied for a 4-3 win.
"It's not like we work on it religiously but every now and then we'll practice balls to the backscreen, sliding on your knees, grabbing it and throwing them out at home plate," Realmuto said. "I would say its definitely less than four or five times in a game where I've actually been able to get the guy out. That was definitely the first time it happened on this stage. So it was nice."
The Marlins designated veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment Monday in part because of how well Realmuto has developed. Redmond loves the way his young catcher is playing and said after Friday’s win that part of the reason the pitching staff is performing better is Realmuto’s doing.
▪ Mat Latos, who injured his left hamstring in Wednesday’s win over the Mets, had a bullpen session before Saturday’s game. He said his knee was still sore, but if he got through the bullpen fine it’s likely he will stay on schedule to make his next start Tuesday in Washington.
▪ Jeff Baker picked up his first hit of the year Friday in his sixth pinch-hit appearance of the season and earned his first start Saturday against Phillies ace Cole Hamels. He finished 1 for 4 with a double.
▪ Justin Nicolino continues to put up zeroes down in the minors. The left-handed prospect tossed six scoreless innings Friday night in Triple A New Orleans and hasn't given up a run since his first start of the season on April 9. That's a span of four starts and 24 innings.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (1-1, 2.49 ERA) vs. Philadelphia Phillies RHP Severino Gonzalez (0-1, 23.63), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (1-0, 3.38) at Washington Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.