The injury hits keep on coming for the Miami Marlins.
The latest news, announced about an hour and a half before the Marlins open a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday at Citizens Bank Park: Starting catcher Jorge Alfaro has been placed on the seven-day concussion injured list.
It doesn’t stop there. The Marlins also transferred Chad Wallach, the team’s Opening Day backup catcher, to the 60-day IL while he still deals with concussion symptoms. The Marlins called up long-time minor-leaguer Wilkin Castillo from Triple A New Orleans to back up Bryan Holaday, who has been the Marlins’ backup catcher since the Marlins initially placed Wallach on the IL on May 24.
“I’m sure it’s hard on him,” Mattingly said. “The biggest part of the concussion protocol is that it’s not like you can say a day from now that he’s going to be ready to go out and start playing games. When we first did this, we thought after seven days, he was going to be ready to go. Here we are, 30-something days into it and still having little effects. We feel like things are getting better, but they’re not where we want to be.”
Wallach was cleared last week to resume all baseball activities, but Mattingly noted that he has a long way to go before he comes back, especially when considering that he hasn’t played in a live game in a month.
“He’s not playing rehab games yet,” Mattingly said. “We’re still moving through and trying to get to that. Once we get to that, we’re at a point where he hasn’t played in who knows how many days. At that point, you’re going to need a full rehab. He’s got to be ready to go when he gets back here.”
As for Alfaro, this is his first stint on the IL this year and the injury stems from taking a swing off the back of the head from Marcell Ozuna and a foul ball off the face mask late in Thursday’s 7-6, 11-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Holaday replaced Alfaro in the ninth inning.
Alfaro has a team-high nine home runs to go along with a .261 batting average, 27 RBI and 22 runs scored.
“Losing the two guys you opened the season with at this point ... we’re hoping Jorge is going to be short,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “But again, we thought that with Wally. You just don’t know.”
This puts the bulk of the catching responsibilities on Holaday, who was a regular on the Marlins’ roster during the 2018 season but opened the 2019 season in Triple A New Orleans. Holaday is playing in his 11th game with the Marlins on Friday, including his eighth start, and is hitting .250 with one home run, five RBI and three runs scored. He has caught one of four runners attempting to steal bases against him this year.
“He has a really good feel for our pitching staff,” Mattingly said. “Totally feel good about him calling the game and catching our guys.”
Castillo, meanwhile, is in his 16th year of professional baseball and is on a major-league roster for the first time since 2009. The 35-year-old switch hitter appeared in 31 games for Triple A New Orleans this season.
▪ In addition to the transactions relating to the catchers, the Marlins also optioned Austin Dean to Triple A New Orleans and recalled right-handed relief pitcher Jeff Brigham.
The moves leaves the Marlins with a three-player bench of Curtis Granderson, Castillo and Garrett Cooper for Friday’s game against the Phillies.
Mattingly said he is optimistic that Cooper will be available to hit if needed after sitting out Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals with left triceps soreness and leaving Thursday’s game in the fifth inning with triceps tightness.