The Marlins lost yet another piece of their bullpen on Thursday when they placed right-hander Bryan Morris on the disabled list with lumbar disc herniation.
The injury could result in surgery that might cost Morris the season.
“At this point, surgery is the only option that can fix what is the issue,” Morris said. “I can [also] take the route of taking cortisone injections and pitching through the season.”
Morris said he has been pitching with discomfort all season and spoke with manager Don Mattingly on Wednesday about the situation. Morris said if he opts for surgery, he could return as early as September and would almost definitely be ready for spring training next year.
“It’s been pretty rough,” Morris said. “It just got to the point where it’s time to take a different route. I told [Mattingly] I wasn’t doing myself any justice and I wasn’t helping the team out because I felt I was pitching at 60 percent.”
Said Mattingly: “He’s been dealing with it for a while, and it’s just gotten worse. It’s gotten to a point where he’s like, basically, ‘I can’t keep doing this.’ ”
Morris landed on the DL last season with a lower-back strain but returned to the bullpen and pitched effectively.
Mattingly said Morris has been trying to pitch through back issues since spring training.
“It seems like it’s just kind of gotten worse and recently it’s been kind of to another level of that,” Mattingly said.
The bullpen the Marlins envisioned at the start of spring training barely exists. Carter Capps was lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Mike Dunn started the season on the DL with a forearm injury.
Dunn has begun pitching in minor-league rehab games and could return to the bullpen when the Marlins return home next week.
The Marlins called up rookie right-hander Nick Wittgren from Triple A New Orleans to fill Morris’ roster spot.
LINEUP IN FLUX
Outfielders Giancarlo Stanton (side soreness) and Christian Yelich (back spasms) remained out again on Thursday, forcing Mattingly to become creative with his lineup.
Mattingly had Adeiny Hechavarria leading off and J.T. Realmuto hitting cleanup.
It’s uncertain when Stanton or Yelich will be able to return to the lineup. Yelich has now missed six games in a row while Stanton was on the bench for the second consecutive day.
Mattingly said he’s hopeful Yelich could be ready to play on Friday in Atlanta, but he doesn’t know for certain whether that’s possible.
“I’m hoping he would be ready [Friday] because we’re back in the National League [against the Braves] and you need your guys,” Mattingly said.
“But it’s also something I don’t want to say tomorrow’s the day, and we get [to Atlanta] and he tries to force himself in [Friday]. It could be a day or two after that.”
GLAD HE STAYED
Cole Gillespie could have signed elsewhere after clearing waivers and becoming a free agent when the Marlins couldn’t find a spot for him on their 25-man Opening Day roster.
They’re happy he decided to stick with the organization, especially after he came through Wednesday with the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning of a 4-3 victory over the Rays.
With Stanton out, Gillespie received his first start of the season and went 2 for 4, including his clutch hit.
“I just felt like this has been a good fit for me,” Gillespie said of his decision to remain with the Marlins when he could have signed elsewhere. “I felt like this organization really believed in me and there was a comfort level there.”
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (3-3, 4.15 ERA) at Atlanta Braves RHP Williams Perez (2-1, 3.86), 7:35 p.m., Turner Field.
▪ Saturday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.61) at Braves RHP Casey Kelly (0-1, 4.50), 4:10 p.m., Turner Field.