Miami Marlins

Martin Prado, after missing a month with injuries, ‘pretty close’ to return to Marlins

Martin Prado wishes he could explain it.

Why the injuries keep happening.

Why he was only able to play in 91 games during the past two seasons.

Why a right hamstring strain has kept him away from the Miami Marlins for the past month and added yet another detour late in his MLB career.

He changed his routines during the past year. More stretching, less weights to stay limber.

But it still wasn’t enough for Prado, the 35-year-old infielder and 14-year MLB veteran, to avoid the injured list this season.

“I would like to explain to everyone why these injuries keep happening to me because the preparation’s there,” Prado said Monday after a rehab assignment game in Jacksonville with the Marlins’ Double A affiliate. “But this time, I think I found my mental and body piece. Hopefully, I can just go through the second half of the season healthy.”

Prado has played five rehab assignment games already — three with Class A Advanced Jupiter, two with Jacksonville. He is playing his final game with Jacksonville on Tuesday afternoon as the Jumbo Shrimp closes out a six-game home series with the Mississippi Braves.

From there, Prado could either be activated from the IL and rejoin the Marlins or continue his rehab assignment with another Marlins minor-league affiliate. The Triple A New Orleans Baby Cakes are on the road in Omaha, Nebraska, through Thursday. The Jupiter Hammerheads are in Daytona Beach until Thursday.

“I know the timing is always tricky,” said Prado, who was hitting .239 with 12 RBI and 17 runs scored in 51 games with the Marlins before the injury. “It doesn’t matter how many at-bats you have. When you go up there, it’s just a different story. Just to be able to run around and make plays, lateral movement feels great.”

He’s recognizing pitches in the batter’s box. He faced 14 pitches during his four plate appearances Monday. He did not chase any of the 11 pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. He took one called strike in his first at-bat and hit the other two balls in play, albeit for a groundout and popout.

“He looks sharp,” Jumbo Shrimp manager Kevin Randel said.

He showed no limited effort on the basepaths. After reaching first in the fourth inning after being hit by a pitch, he quickly made his way to second on a wild pitch and then made it home with ease on a Garrett Stone RBI single to shallow right field.

“Today, I felt like money,” Prado said. “I’m pretty close.”

And while he hasn’t been with the team, Prado has been closely following the Marlins over the past month. He was with the team during their 13-5 stretch from mid-May to early June that included series wins over the New York Mets, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers. The Marlins have gone 10-14 in the 24 games since Prado went on the IL, but the emergence of players such as Garrett Cooper have given Prado optimism about the team’s direction.

“I enjoy the fire from the guys and how they’re establishing themselves,” Prado said. “It’s fun to watch. It’s a different story. Some people don’t understand the process of going to the next level, but their heading in the right direction. Hopefully, people will be patient enough to understand that sometimes the process takes a while to get everybody going and having everybody on the same page.”

Prado is hoping to join in the fight again soon.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.