The Marlins are preparing for life without Martin Prado with their veteran third baseman likely to miss an extended amount of time for the second consecutive season.
On Saturday, they recalled hot-hitting shortstop J.T. Riddle from the minors to make his 2018 season debut Saturday against the Washington Nationals. The Marlins placed Prado on the 10-day disabled list after he suffered a left hamstring strain while running to first base in the sixth inning of Friday’s game.
The Marlins expect Prado to be out for a significant amount longer than that, however.
It was the latest frustrating setback for Prado, who was limited to only 37 games last season after an injury to the same hamstring and knee surgery later in the year.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone that cares more about playing baseball than Martin,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s really hard to see this. At times, he’ll apologize for getting hurt. If we had 25 guys with that attitude we’d win a championship.”
Mattingly said Riddle, who played in his first major-league game since July 19, will likely stick to playing shortstop.
Versatile infielder Miguel Rojas started at third on Saturday, as the Marlins kept Brian Anderson in right field where he has been solid since moving there primarily on April 27th.
In 24 games in right field, Anderson has made one error in 46 chances and has three outfield assists.
“It’s just balancing your time and not getting overwhelmed by one or the other,” Anderson said. “The main challenge is just taking care of your body and understanding that switching positions you’re going to do certain things differently, but some things you’re still going to do the same.”
But neither move is permanent as both players could see action at third base.
“I think it’s what’s best for us right now,” Mattingly said. “[Anderson] is really comfortable in right, but I don’t want him to become uncomfortable at third. There’s still a really good chance he could be our guy at third for a long time, but right now you see him being able to play right, possibly some third and first kind of like that Kris Bryant type role.”
A number of teams around the majors have begun to use players more and more both in the outfield and infield such as Bryant with the Chicago Cubs and Cody Bellinger with the Dodgers.
Rojas played only one game at third this season before Saturday, but had played 45 games there during his career.
Mattingly said Anderson may play a little bit at first base in addition to moving from third base to right field.
“It gives you flexibility as an organization and gives you flexibility during a game,” Mattingly said.
The quality the Marlins will undoubtedly miss the most in Prado’s absence is his leadership on a squad with numerous rookies and young players.
“He was working so hard to be at the top of his game even when he wasn’t hitting that much,” Rojas said. “He was the one most prepared in the clubhouse. A leader needs to be like that. This is one that we have to just step up and have his back.”
Riddle’s return presumably could inject some offense into the Marlins’ lineup.
As part of his a lengthy rehab of his own from left shoulder surgery and later right shoulder tendinitis he suffered in spring training, Riddle hit .346 with three home runs, 19 RBI and eight extra-base hits overall in 21 games for Triple-A New Orleans.
“It’s been a long road with the recovery process ever since I was up here last year,” Riddle said. “I kind of treated this last month as my spring training. I’ve been feeling really good, swinging the bat well. I’m just feeling great, glad to be back and ready to go.”
Sunday: Miami Marlins RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-4, 3.36), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Monday: Marlins LHP Caleb Smith (3-5, 3.83 ERA) vs. San Diego Padres LHP Eric Lauer (1-2, 6.67), 4:10 p.m., Petco Park.