The Marlins hoped to avoid sending third baseman Martin Prado to the disabled list. Now, after doing just that Thursday, they’re concerned their starting catcher might follow.
Rookie J.T. Realmulto, who was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup with back stiffness, said Thursday he’s hoping the ailment will subside after three days – just like it did during a similar episode in spring training. But as a precaution, the Marlins on Thursday called up two players from Triple A New Orleans: catcher Jhonatan Solano and utility man Jordany Valdespin.
Solano was activated to back up catcher Jeff Mathis on Thursday night against the Yankees. If Realmuto’s back heals in a few days, Solano likely will head back to the minors and Valdespin will fill in for Prado at third until he returns from the DL.
Donovan Solano, Jhonatan’s brother, started at third base Thursday night.
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“I was actually walking from the bus to the stadium when it kind of grabbed on me,” Realmuto said of his injury. “It’s right along the spine and you can feel the knot in it. It feels almost like the same exact situation [in spring training]. So I should be good to go pretty quickly.”
The Marlins were caught short-handed at catcher in Wednesday’s game. Instead of being able to pinch-hit for Mathis with the tying run on second and two outs in the ninth inning, manager Dan Jennings left him in to hit. Mathis struck out swinging to end the game.
Jennings said Thursday had he hit for Mathis in that situation, Donovan Solano would have likely been behind the plate in the bottom of the ninth had the Marlins tied the score or gone ahead. Jennings said first baseman Justin Bour also has experience catching from his high school days.
The timing of Realmuto’s injury is especially bad because, after hitting .213 through the first two months of the season, the rookie catcher was beginning to find his groove in June, batting .319 with a homer and seven RBI over his past 12 games.
“It’s definitely bad timing,” he said. “The team has been playing great. I’ve been swinging the bat a lot better. I’m definitely more comfortable. Like I said, hopefully this is a two-, three-game thing, so I won’t lose too much momentum.”
Jennings said Prado, who didn’t make the trip to the Bronx, worked out with a trainer in Miami on Wednesday but still felt shoulder soreness while throwing, prompting the team to place him on the DL. Jennings said he expects Prado to come off the DL after the allotted15 days.
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Pitcher Jarred Cosart, who has been battling vertigo, will make at least one more rehab start in the minors, Jennings said.
“He’s going to get one more minor-league start Sunday in Chattanooga and then we’ll reassess that and go from there,” Jennings said. “His stuff is coming back; velocity is up to 98 mph. He had a lot of down time there and we want to make sure he’s built back the right way. Mechanically he’s fine and his command of his pitches is fine.
“We felt like one more time down there he’ll be right at the 100-pitch mark, which is good. We’ll make sure he’s 100 percent before we bring him back.”
▪ Jose Fernandez, hoping to return to the rotation July 2, will make his fourth rehab start Monday for Single A Jupiter. Fernandez struck out 10 on 71 pitches and allowed a run on four hits over 4 2/3 innings Wednesday night. Jennings said Fernandez’s velocity was up to 98 mph and between 95 and 96 mph consistently.
“The way the report read it was pretty dominating, probably a little bit too many pitches for the number of innings,” Jennings said. “But the fact he’s utilized all his pitches and making sure he has the feel for them, it’s coming together the right way.”
▪ The Marlins signed seven more draft picks Thursday, including their second-round pick — left-handed pitcher Brett Lilek. The team now has 27 of their 40 picks under contract.
Friday: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (6-3, 3.22 ERA) at Reds RHP Mike Leake (3-4, 4.35), 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (5-4, 3.76) at Reds RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-4, 3.36), 7:10 p.m.
Sunday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (4-3, 3.96) at Reds RHP Michael Lorenzen (2-2, 3.70), 1:10 p.m.