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Stolen base title still within reach for Marlins’ Emilio Bonifacio

His thumb brought his legs to a grinding halt.

But despite missing 60 games while serving two separate stints on the disabled list with a thumb injury, Emilio Bonifacio still has a shot at winning the league’s stolen base title.

“That’s unbelievable,” said Bonifacio, who came off the DL on Sunday and returned to the lineup, batting in the leadoff spot.

Bonifacio began the day only two steals behind Atlanta’s Michael Bourn, who led the National League with 32 stolen bases. Bonifacio injured his thumb for the first time on May 18 in Cleveland when his hand caught the bag on his first failed stolen base try of the season. He reinjured it in Washington on Aug. 3 when he reached down to stop a ground ball and his gloved hand hit the ground.

Bonifacio, who started in center, said he will wear a plastic insert inside his glove to protect the thumb from further injury, but only when he is in the outfield. If he plays the infield, he will not wear the insert in order to squeeze his glove.

If Bonifacio remains healthy, he could become the fourth Marlin to win the stolen base title, joining Juan Pierre (2003), Chuck Carr (1993) and Luis Castillo (2000 and 2002).

Murphy returns

Infielder Donnie Murphy was also activated from the DL on Sunday and started at third.

To make room on their roster, the Marlins optioned outfielder Scott Cousins to Triple A New Orleans and designated infielder Gil Velazquez for assignment.

Dobbs still out

Greg Dobbs remained out of the lineup on Sunday with an oblique strain, but said he hopes to return in Arizona, where the Marlins open a four-game series on Monday against the Diamondbacks.

“I want to play more than anything, trust me,” Dobbs said.

With Arizona scheduled to send out left-hander Joe Saunders on Monday, Dobbs likely won’t start the series opener.

Tough-luck streak

Josh Johnson lost his third consecutive start Sunday even though he has allowed only seven earned runs in 21 total innings. It was his fourth consecutive quality start and fifth quality start in his past six starts.

Johnson also had a three-loss streak to start the season.

Coming up



: Marlins LHP

Mark Buehrle

(10-11, 3.74 ERA) at Arizona Diamondbacks LHP

Joe Saunders

(6-9, 3.70), 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.



: Marlins RHP

Ricky Nolasco

(9-12, 4.94) at Arizona Diamondbacks RHP

Trevor Cahill

(9-10, 3.75), 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.


Scouting report

: The Marlins lost three out of four to Arizona at Marlins Park in late April. Joe Saunders has lost three of his past four decisions, but got his third career shutout (out of 181 starts) against the Marlins on April 27.

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