Giancarlo Stanton is back.
In a surprise announcement shortly before the Marlins took the field Tuesday, manager Don Mattingly said Stanton — out since Aug. 13 with what was described initially as a severely strained groin — had been activated from the disabled list and would be available to pinch-hit.
“He’s basically a bat off the bench right now,” Mattingly said. “We’re not talking about him being in right field three days from now. But we do expect that to happen at some point.”
It was believed when Stanton first suffered the Grade 3 injury that Miami’s slugger would likely be lost for the season. Later, it was thought he could return for the final week of the season.
“That’s the timetable we were given, too, and what we were really going by,” Mattingly said.
Now the slumping Marlins, who are on life support in the Wild Card playoff race, will have him for the final 24 games.
Stanton hit in a simulation game at Marlins Park before batting practice Tuesday, sending a home run into the vegetation growing just beyond the center field wall.
Later, during batting practice, he ran the bases and looked surprisingly nimble. Mattingly said that if Stanton was to reach base, he would not require a pinch-runner.
But Stanton has been advised to be cautious when running.
The Marlins also received more good news on the injury front Tuesday when first baseman Justin Bour was activated from the disabled list. Bour has been out since early July with a high ankle sprain.
Like Stanton, Bour will be used as a pinch-hitter for now but could return to the lineup in a matter of days.
“It sure looks a lot better on my card when I look at it that these guys are available,” Mattingly said.
Stanton leads the Marlins with 25 home runs. Bour is fourth on the team with 15 homers, despite missing more than two months.
“How effective they’ll be, with time off, you never know how that works,” Mattingly said. “Some guys come back and are rolling right away. Other guys, it takes at-bats to get that timing back.”
The returns of Stanton and Bour could give the Marlins a much-needed emotional lift. The team had lost 22 of its past 33 games entering Tuesday, and with a record of 68-70, has sunk two games below .500 for the first time since April 27.
“It can’t hurt,” Mattingly said of the spiritual lift the two players could provide. “I think we’ve been beaten up the last couple of weeks mentally. Guys keep fighting. And I feel good they’re not giving up.
“But it’s been a tough couple of weeks. Not putting wins on the board this time of year, and you see yourself kind of fading a little bit, it’s not a great feeling. But this is something that could give us a little bit of a bump.”
Chen pitches simulated game
Wei-Yin Chen moved closer to his return when he pitched a simulation game Tuesday and said he felt strong. Chen, who has been out since late July with a left elbow injury, is expected to pitch in one more simulated game, at which point the Marlins could throw him back in the rotation in 10 days.
The Marlins called up three more players: pitchers Justin Nicolino and Hunter Cervenka, and outfielder Yefri Perez. Perez is a speedster, and because of a broken finger, would only be used as a pinch-runner, Mattingly said.
To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Kendry Flores was designated for assignment.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Andrew Cashner (4-11, 5.00) vs. Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 3.88), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Thursday: Off day.