The Marlins spent three weeks without using a left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen.
They got one of their most reliable lefties back Tuesday when Mike Dunn was activated from the disabled list.
Dunn spent the first two months of the season rehabbing a left forearm strain he suffered just before the end of spring training, which resulted in his first career stint on the disabled list.
“It’s definitely been a different process having never gone through this before,” Dunn said. “I’m excited to be back with the guys and help where I can.”
To make room for Dunn on the roster, the Marlins designated right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson for assignment. Jackson went 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in eight relief appearances and was on the disabled list himself from April 19-May 20 with a right triceps strain.
Dunn is in his sixth season with the Marlins and has made 354 appearances out of the bullpen which is 14 short of the franchise record held by Braden Looper.
Dunn is 22-24 and has a 3.56 ERA in 383 career appearances, and went 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 2015.
The Marlins hope Dunn can bolster the back end of the bullpen, which has been solid this season behind righties Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and closer A.J. Ramos.
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco made the Marlins pay Monday night in a situation where they would have benefitted from having a left-handed option. Polanco hit a grand slam off right-hander Jose Urena after Mattingly removed lefty starter Justin Nicolino that keyed a 10-0 rout.
“Mike adds another power arm and a late-inning guy and obviously being left-handed is a bonus for us,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “There are parts of an order coming up where you’d have two or three lefties coming up, it’s nice to have him there for that.”
The Marlins opened the season hoping they could manage in Dunn’s absence with Chris Narveson and Craig Breslow as their primary left-handed relievers.
Narveson (1-0, 8.64 ERA) was designated on April 21 and eventually sent to Triple-A, and Breslow (0-2, 4.50 ERA) was sent to the minors on May 16. Cody Ege was also called up briefly in late April, but pitched only three innings during which he compiled a 12.00 ERA.
The Marlins had not used a left-handed reliever since May 10 and chose to go without one after Breslow was optioned. Prospect Jarlin Garcia was called up May 16, but he did not pitch and was sent back to Double-A Jacksonville four days later.
“You’d like to get [Dunn] out there [in late innings], but I’d like to be careful with him early on,” Mattingly said. “We’ll try to use him where we’d normally use him and not give him a meaningless inning because that means he’d be down the next day.”
▪ Bryan Morris, who was placed on the DL this past Thursday with a lumbar disc herniation, said he has opted to undergo back surgery on Wednesday in Miami, which will likely keep him out for at least three months.
Morris has pitched in 24 games this season (17 2/3 innings) and compiled a 3.06 ERA, recording one save.
“Best-case scenario, I pitch in September, which is the ultimate goal, but obviously I have to be 100 percent before I can take that step,” Morris said. “The first few weeks are supposed to be pretty light and just letting everything heal, and then I just go from there.”
▪ Miguel Rojas said he took about 30 swings off the tee before Tuesday’s game and hopes to avoid a stint on the disabled list. Rojas hurt his shoulder while swinging in the third inning of Monday night’s game. Rojas left the game at that point and did not return.
Rojas said he suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder last year, but did not have surgery. He said the pain he felt Monday was on the top of the shoulder, which caused some inflammation.
“Throwing is not an issue and I’m going to be able to come off the bench and hit if they need me,” Rojas said. “I just don’t feel 100 percent, but I feel better than what I expected.”
▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (3-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. LHP Jonathon Niese (5-2, 4.42 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.37 ERA) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (4-4, 4.79 ERA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.