The Marlins’ bullpen, which already lost Carter Capps for the season, took another hit Sunday.
Mike Dunn, the team’s most durable reliever, will miss the start the season due to a left forearm strain.
On the day the team finalized its Opening Day roster, Dunn was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 25th, which means his earliest return would be during the team’s first road series against the Nationals.
It’s Dunn’s first stint on the DL in his career that began in 2009 with the Yankees.
"Nothing’s serious in our thought," Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said. "But we just figured we have the ability to retro him, and let’s not make something little, big, and give him the opportunity when he’s healthy to give us a full season."
Hill said the issue first came up for Dunn when he felt some tightness in his forearm while pitching on a back field in Jupiter on March 24th. Hill said Dunn had an MRI that came back negative.
"[Dunn] had been throwing change-ups, and so we didn’t think much of it at the time," Hill said. "The MRI was clean. No issues at all with the MRI. But when we got here to Marlins Park, the first day we were here for the intrasquad [game], the tightness hadn’t really resolved. And with the season and the fact he hadn’t pitched in an ‘A’ game before the 25th, we had the retro days, so we opted just to DL him and make sure we get it all out of there and he’s fine for the long haul."
Dunn has appeared in 354 games since being acquired by the Marlins in 2010 in a trade that sent Dan Uggla to the Braves. The mark is 14 shy of the club record held by Braden Looper.
Dunn went 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 72 appearances (54 innings) last season that spiked following respectable seasons of 2.66 and 3.16, which also increased his WHIP to 1.389 thanks largely to a pair of rough patches in April and August. Dunn has a 3.56 career ERA in 383 all-time appearances.
The Marlins designated both lefty reliever Brad Hand and outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment, placed lefty pitcher Raudel Lazo on the 15-day disabled list and Capps, who had Tommy John surgery in early March on the 60-day disabled list.
The Marlins will open the season with a bullpen consisting of lefties Craig Breslow and Chris Narveson and righties David Phelps, Edwin Jackson, Dustin McGowan and Bryan Morris, along with right-handed closer A.J. Ramos.
With Dunn out, the Marlins will look to veterans like Breslow, Narveson and McGowan for depth early on.
Breslow, a 35-year old lefty, spent the past four seasons with the Red Sox and was part of their 2013 World Series championship team. Narveson, 34, won three games this spring and can start games as well as provide bullpen depth.
McGowan, a 34-year old, who has pitched with the Blue Jays and Phillies signed with the Marlins in December and impressed the team with his performances this spring.
“Minus just one outing my spring went well,” McGowan said after his start Saturday against the Yankees. “My control was much better. These last couple of weeks have been stressful, but now I feel like a weight has been lifted and I can be me.”
If Hand is not claimed off waivers the Marlins can outright him to Triple-A. Gillespie is out of options so if he clears waivers he would have to accept the assignment.
Hand has a 9-25 career record with a 4.71 ERA in five seasons. Gillespie played in 67 games last season for the Marlins, hit .290 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 145 at-bats, and played all three positions in the outfield.
"It’s one of those things where we know both of them, and we hope that we’re able to retain them," Hill said.
Hill didn’t express concern with the team’s bullpen depth.
"I think in the short term we’re giving all of our young guys time to develop," Hill said. "I think you’ve got four guys who are mid-90s guys who are at Triple-A in [Jose] Urena, [Kyle] Barraclough, [Brian] Ellington and [Nefi] Ogando.
"They’re close to being major-league ready, and when they’re ready, they’ll come. They should help us."
Gillespie’s move means Ichiro Suzuki is the only listed backup outfielder to the starting trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, but Chris Johnson and Derek Dietrich can also play outfield. Johnson and Dietrich, along with Miguel Rojas and catcher Jeff Mathis round out the team’s position player reserves.
Tuesday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen vs. Tigers RHP Justin Verlander, 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.