Don Mattingly was asked prior to Saturday night’s game if he thought signing Alex Rodriguez could provide a much-needed boost during a potential pennant chase.
Rodriguez played his final game as a Yankee on Friday night and was released on Saturday morning as planned by the Yankees, who announced recently they are planning on making him a special adviser and instructor within the organization.
The Marlins recorded only 13 hits over their previous three games entering Saturday and scored only four runs over their past 33 innings.
“We really haven’t talked about it as far as him coming here,” the Marlins manager said. “In the [National League], you have to play the field, and he hasn’t played the field in a long time. Not sure where he fits right now.”
However, a team source said the Marlins have discussed the possibility of signing Rodriguez.
He played his first and only inning at third base on Friday in the ninth inning of his farewell game in New York.
Rodriguez played in 65 games and started 57 this season as the Yankees’ designated hitter.
His .200 batting average was the worst in a single season for the 41-year-old Rodriguez, who ranks fourth all-time in career home runs (696) and third all-time in career RBI (2,086).
Rodriguez had just nine home runs and 31 RBI this season, hitting an RBI double in Friday’s game against the Rays. In 2015, Rodriguez hit .250 with 33 home runs.
“I like Alex,” said Mattingly, who was Rodriguez’s hitting coach with the Yankees from 2004-06. “He was always one of those guys that played hard and [was] never afraid of the field. He was ready to go every day.”
Speculation began almost immediately following Rodriguez’s announcement that he was playing his final game as a Yankee as to whether he would consider playing for another team.
Playing for the Marlins would give the Miami Westminster Christian High graduate a chance to play in front of his hometown fans.
Without the designated hitter option though, Rodriguez’s best potential fit could be to play him at first base while Justin Bour works his way back from a high ankle sprain that has kept him out since July 2 and appears likely to keep him out until at least early September.
“I’m not going to talk about anyone other than my own guys right now,” Mattingly said. “We’ve missed Justin at first. We haven’t been able to replace that, for sure. We have to try and get better, and I know we’re always trying to get better in different areas.”
Rodriguez has played only one game at first base in his career.
“I think Alex is adaptable,” Mattingly said. “He’s a guy that played shortstop, so it tells you he was one of the best athletes in the game in his prime. He moved seamlessly to third [later in his career], so there’s no reason he couldn’t play first. I think he has the ability to do a lot of things.”
Austin Brice said he was on edge every time he heard the bullpen phone ring. On Friday night, the call was for him.
Brice hopes to answer many such future calls with effective performances like the one he delivered Friday, in which he worked a scoreless eighth inning. He threw 11 pitches, striking out Adam Eaton, who had gone 4 for 4 in the game to that point, and Melky Cabrera.
Brice, rated the No. 9 prospect in the Marlins’ farm system by MLBPipeline.com, went 4-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 starts (27 appearances) for Double A Jacksonville this season. He was called up on Tuesday from Triple A New Orleans after the Marlins placed closer A.J. Ramos on the disabled list.
“I’m not quite unpacking the wagon just yet, but it was nice getting out there,” Brice said. “The past few days were mentally draining. It was relaxing to get out there and show what I have. It was good.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Bryan Morris is expected to be ready to pitch in rehab games before the end of the minor-league season in early September.
Morris, who underwent surgery on his back in early June, recently threw a couple of bullpen sessions and said he was feeling better than he had in two years. Morris has not pitched since May 24.
▪ Wei-Yin Chen threw again on Friday and continued to progress, according to Mattingly.
“It’s a ways off still, and we’re [probably] going to run out of games on the minor-league side,” Mattingly said. “At this point, I’m not counting on him coming back and being a huge part of it, but it’s a huge positive that he’s back on that road. We’re in the process of strengthening him back up.”
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (9-8, 3.83 ERA) vs. Chicago White Sox LHP Chris Sale (14-5, 3.16), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (5-6, 2.40) at Cincinnati Reds LHP Brandon Finnegan (7-8, 4.45), 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park.