Marlins catcher JT Realmuto was quick to forgive outfielder Marcell Ozuna for Monday’s baserunning miscue that cost the Marlins a run and Realmuto a home run.
“I could never be mad at Ozuna,” Realmuto said Wednesday. “He’s like a brother to me … he’s been very apologetic.”
The way Ozuna is hitting, it would be hard for anyone to stay mad at him for long.
Ozuna went 3 for 4 in Tuesday night’s loss and entered Wednesday’s action riding a 10-game hitting streak. He has recorded multiple hits in seven of those 10 games, and has 18 hits in 43 at-bats (a .419 batting average) since Dee Gordon was suspended.
“He’s got a good attitude every day,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Ozuna, who let Realmuto pass him on the bases Monday, turning a Realmuto homer into an RBI single. “He’s stayed with the program. … Coincidentally, since he’s been taking his walks and getting better pitches to hit, he’s hitting a lot better.”
Ozuna also has been hitting better out of the sixth spot in the batting order, which he occupied again Wednesday. Ozuna’s average out of the sixth slot is .395, compared with a .229 clip out of the second position.
“He’s one of those guys that could change the ball game at any time,” Realmuto said of Ozuna. “He’s really starting to settle in on an approach. We always knew he had this kind of potential in him … he’s finally starting to tap into it consistently.”
Consistency has been a problem for Ozuna in the past. After hitting .316 in September 2014, Ozuna struggled in the first half of the 2015 season and was sent down to the minors for 33 games. He returned to the big leagues in mid-August and had another strong September, hitting .301 that month before his hot start to 2016.
The Marlins made a roster move before Wednesday’s game, designating left-handed reliever Craig Breslow for assignment and recalling right-hander Dustin McGowan from Triple A New Orleans. Breslow’s departure leaves Miami with no left-handers in the bullpen.
“This is a choice we’ve made, to go without a lefty,” Mattingly said. “We’d like to have one, or even a couple, but I’d also much rather have what we feel like is our best seven arms out there [in the bullpen].”
Breslow appeared in 15 games for the Marlins, but he struggled in his past two appearances. He faced two batters and took the loss in Saturday’s eighth-inning meltdown against Philadelphia, and allowed two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings Tuesday against Milwaukee.
McGowan returns for his second stint with the Marlins this season. He appeared in six April games out of the bullpen before returning to the minors, where he threw four scoreless outings for New Orleans.
“It’s just exciting to be called up,” McGowan said. “It’s good that we’re playing good baseball … it’s always a bonus … any time you can go out here and help [the Marlins], it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
The Marlins might not feature a righty-only bullpen for long, as left-hander Mike Dunn continues to work his way back from a strained left forearm.
Thursday: Off day.
Friday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 2.38 ERA) at Washington Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.19), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.