A.J. Ramos’ middle finger is disproportionately longer than his index finger.
Asked to provide a medical term for the unusually long digit, Ramos replied: “Mutant.”
And, as it turns out now, broken.
Ramos, the Marlins’ closer, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a fractured middle finger on his pitching hand, further weakening the team’s bullpen.
“With that finger that much longer than the other one, I’m able to spin [the ball] a little bit differently,” Ramos said. “With that being the main finger, it’s kind of one of those deals where it’s hard to pitch normal.”
Ramos thought he had merely jammed the finger while making a fielding play during the Marlins’ previous home stand and tried pitching through the pain to mixed results during the ensuing road trip.
But the pain intensified, and after the Marlins taxed their bullpen in Monday’s 14-inning marathon loss to the Giants, the decision was made to place Ramos on the DL, send newly acquired lefty reliever Hunter Cervenka to Triple A New Orleans, and call up two bullpen reinforcements: veteran lefty Chris Narveson and rookie right-hander Austin Brice.
While the Marlins have an experienced fallback in Fernando Rodney for the closer’s spot, the ripple-down effect on the rest of the bullpen is what concerns the Marlins and manager Don Mattingly.
“It just pushes other guys into different roles,” Mattingly said. “Now you’re using guys in roles we haven’t used them in all year. Not that they can’t handle the roles. But it’s different.”
The Marlins thought they had strengthened the back end of their bullpen when the traded for Rodney. That gave them four relievers to close out the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings: David Phelps, Kyle Barraclough, Rodney and Ramos.
But Phelps was moved to the rotation when the Colin Rea trade with San Diego went up in flames, Ramos landed on the DL, and the Marlins were left with not four, but two relievers for those crucial final four innings.
Mattingly said Cervenka’s demotion had nothing to do with his poor outing on Monday, but rather with his recent heavy workload and the desperate need for bullpen help after using eight pitchers — including starter Andrew Cashner —out of the pen in the extra-inning loss to the Giants.
▪ Brice, the Marlins’ ninth-round pick in 2010, went 4-7 with a 2.89 ERA for Double A Jacksonville this season before his recent promotion to Triple A New Orleans, where he had appeared in one game.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (5-5, 2.45) vs. San Francisco Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (9-8, 4.40), 12:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Thursday: Off.