Martin Prado had plenty of rookies around him in the Marlins’ clubhouse.
On Friday afternoon, Prado felt like one himself.
“I feel like I just got called up,” Prado said.
Hard to blame Prado, the Marlins’ 34-year-old veteran, who just completed what he hopes is a lasting return to the team after dealing with multiple leg injuries for over a year.
“I’m just really excited,” Prado said. “It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions … this is what you dream of, it doesn’t matter how long you play this sport. It’s always really exciting just to be blessed to play in the big leagues.”
Prado, who opened his 13th major league season on Friday, was activated and inserted in the starting lineup immediately to man his familiar third base position.
The Marlins moved rookie third baseman Brian Anderson to right field in order to keep him in the lineup. Anderson entered Friday’s game with 12 RBI, which was second-most on the team behind Justin Bour’s 13. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the plan for Anderson was to play him in the outfield and at first base, as well as back at third.
Prado’s troubles began in March 2017 while playing for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic when he strained his right hamstring. In addition to dealing with that nagging injury, Prado later underwent right knee surgery toward the end of last season, which limited him to 37 games a year ago.
Prado suffered another setback during spring training that prolonged his rehab and kept him out for the start of the season. But after participating in rehab games in extended spring training and with the club’s Single A advanced affiliate in Jupiter, Prado said he’s feels better than he has in quite some time.
“I’m going to do everything I can,” Prado said. “I want to be ready to go every day mentally and physically.”
The Marlins plan to give Prado a day or two of rest per week in order to ease him back. But Prado said he felt confident he could be effective playing every day.
The Marlins, who rank 27th in the majors in batting average and runs scored, stand to benefit from Prado’s presence in the lineup.
“He gives you a solid, quality player in the lineup,” Mattingly said. “It’s just nice to get back a guy that knows how to play the game right and such a hard worker and such a good example for our young guys.”
The Marlins optioned starting pitcher Trevor Richards to Triple A New Orleans. Richards went 0-2 with a 4.94 ERA in five starts (23 2/3 innings).
The club has yet to announce when Wei-Yin Chen or Dan Straily will make their season debuts in their rotation. Chen threw a bullpen Thursday and could start Saturday against the Rockies. Straily threw a bullpen Friday and was set to be evaluated Saturday with the chance to be activated soon after.
When asked if Chen might start Saturday, Mattingly responded, “He could.”
Saturday: Miami Marlins LHP Caleb Smith (0-3, 5.82 ERA) vs. Colorado Rockies RHP German Marquez (1-2, 6.14), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Sunday: Marlins LHP Jarlin Garcia (1-0, 1.00) vs. Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (3-0, 2.40), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.