If the Marlins are to make the playoffs this year, they’ll have to do it without Giancarlo Stanton.
On Sunday, the Marlins confirmed it was bad news, placing Stanton on the disabled list with what team president of baseball operations Michael Hill later called a Grade 3 strain of the left groin after obtaining the results of the MRI he underwent.
Hill said the injury requires a six-week recovery period that will keep Stanton out for at least the remainder of the regular season.
“There is still an opportunity for [Stanton] to be back before season’s end, but obviously it was a significant injury,” Hill said. “In a long season things always happen. We have the wherewithal in that clubhouse and in our [minor-league] system to absorb whatever comes our way. Obviously, Stanton is a big part of our club, but we’ve dealt with a lot already this season.”
The news Sunday got even worse for the Marlins, who also placed starting pitcher Adam Conley on the DL with tendinitis of his left middle finger.
With Stanton and Conley on the DL, the Marlins recalled infielder Robert Andino and lefty reliever Hunter Cervenka from Triple A New Orleans. They also released right-handed pitcher Cody Hall.
Ichiro Suzuki figures to get most of the starts in right field for the remainder of the season, as he did Sunday.
The Marlins are also considering outside options, which includes pursuing Alex Rodriguez, who was released Saturday by the Yankees.
“Those guys in the clubhouse don’t feel sorry for themselves,” Hill said. “They know they have to pick up the load that Stanton has been carrying. This is a good team that will take this in stride and keep rolling.”
Manager Don Mattingly had a bad feeling from the moment he saw Stanton collapse near second base at the end of Saturday night’s game.
Stanton injured himself on the final out of Saturday’s 8-7 loss to the White Sox when he attempted to extend a bloop single to a double. On the play, Stanton raced around first base as the ball bounced away from Adam Eaton in right field. But as Stanton made it halfway to second, he pulled up abruptly and was easily tagged out by shortstop Tim Anderson.
“When I saw it it looked like he got shot,” Mattingly said. “It looked like what you see when guys have hamstring [injuries], they just pull up. I walked out with him after the game, and he was limping. Obviously, you knew that wasn’t a good sign.”
Stanton, who is hitting .244 with a team-high 25 home runs and 70 RBI, would finish his third consecutive season on the DL. In 2014, he sustained facial fractures after being hit by a pitch in Milwaukee and last season he sustained a broken hamate bone.
“I have no idea what [Rodriguez’s] interest level is to continue playing,” Hill said. “Where we are now, this team has played too well for too long, and we’re going to do everything in our power to help it any way we can … whether it’s [Rodriguez] or anyone else.”
Stanton carried plenty of momentum into the second half of the season following a historic victory at the All-Star Home Run Derby, where he set records for most homers (61) and home run distance (497 feet).
His absence further depletes a lineup that is now without two of its top three home run hitters, as it waits for Justin Bour to return from a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him since July 2.
“In the past on this team, it’s kind of been Giancarlo and his band of other little guys with him,” Mattingly said. “It’s no longer like that on this team. These guys have come into their own. Obviously, we know we’re not the same club without [Stanton] that we would be with him. But we know we’re good enough.
“We’ll have a little different look with Ichiro in there with more speed, and he’ll put the ball in play a little more. It will be different, but we can get it done this way.”
Mattingly said he’s hopeful Conley’s stint on the DL will be brief.
Conley sustained the injury on Aug. 3 when he hit his hand on the top of the dugout at Wrigley Field while celebrating a home run by catcher Jeff Mathis.
Conley said after Saturday’s game he had been feeling soreness since the incident in Chicago.
On Saturday night, Conley gave up five runs on five hits, walked four and struck out four and lasted only four innings. He was removed after throwing 83 pitches.
That followed a poor outing Aug. 7 in Colorado, when Conley lasted only five innings and gave up six runs on seven hits and also walked four and struck out two.
Conley is 8-6 in his second season in the majors with a 3.94 ERA, 122 strikeouts and 61 walks in 24 starts ( 130 1/3 innings).
Conley’s injury leaves the rotation without a left-handed starter, with Wei-Yin Chen also on the DL with a left elbow sprain. Chen is not expected to return until mid-September at the earliest.
“We felt like it was a good time to put him on the DL and give him a few extra days,” Mattingly said. “It just seemed like he was dragging a little bit and his velocity was down.”
Mattingly said Jose Fernandez would be moved up to pitch Thursday in Cincinnati to fill Conley’s next scheduled turn in the rotation. The Marlins will use a spot starter Tuesday, but Mattingly did not say who that would be.
David Phelps will start the Marlins’ next game Monday night in Cincinnati.