The Marlins aren’t sure when, or even if, lefty starter Wei-Yin Chen will return to their rotation this season.
But after a bullpen session was cut short on Saturday because of continued discomfort, it is all but certain Chen won’t be back anytime soon as he continues to deal with arm and elbow issues.
“Chen didn’t go as good as we’d like [Saturday],” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He was feeling something.”
Chen, who is on the disabled list with what the Marlins have termed as “left arm fatigue,” told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel two weeks ago that he had been pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
He missed two months last season with a left elbow sprain.
After making his fifth start on May 1, Chen complained of discomfort and was placed on the DL. But an MRI revealed no significant damage, and Chen resumed throwing. The Marlins thought initially he would miss just one start.
Chen threw a normal bullpen session on Wednesday and told reporters on Friday that his arm felt better.
But, with the possibility of a Tuesday start looming, Chen threw another bullpen session on Saturday that did not go well.
The session came to a halt after Chen threw just 15-20 pitches.
“We expected it to go good after his [Wednesday] bullpen,” Mattingly said. “It’s still his arm, same as before. It just doesn’t feel right.”
Chen was scheduled to see a doctor on Saturday.
“At this point, you feel like you really can’t count on him in the near future when it happens like this,” Mattingly said.
“Obviously, this is turning into more than what we thought it was going to be.”
Chen is in the second year of a five-year, $80 million deal he signed before the 2016 season. The pitcher has player options totaling $52 million over the coming three seasons.
With Chen out of the rotation mix, the Marlins will need another starter to join the group.
Left-hander Justin Nicolino, who has not pitched since last Sunday for Triple A New Orleans, looms as a likely call-up and could go Sunday for the Marlins.
WELCOME TO THE NL
Mike Aviles might be the prototypical National League player, capable of playing multiple positions. But Friday marked the first time in his 10 major-league seasons he put on an NL team’s uniform.
“For all the positions I played, I figured I’d be here a long time ago,” said Aviles, who made his Marlins debut on Friday, entering in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter and remaining in at shortstop.
Aviles has played every position except first base, pitcher and catcher during nine seasons with the Royals, Red Sox, Indians and Tigers.
“With all the positions, I figured, hey, if there’s some way to get into the National League, there’s definitely got to be a way,” Aviles said.
Aviles underwent wrist surgery over the winter and played for World Baseball Classic runner-up Puerto Rico in March but, at 36, remained unsigned going into the season. But the Marlins signed him last week to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple A New Orleans. His stay was brief. On Thursday in Reno, Nevada, only two at-bats into his first game with the Baby Cakes, he was taken out.
“I thought I was in trouble when I got taken out of the game in the third inning,” he said. “I was sitting there just staring, wondering what did I do wrong? I didn’t know what I did.”
It turned out that the Marlins sent word that they were calling up Aviles and needed him out of the game so that he could catch a flight to Miami.
“It was, ‘See ya later, gotta go,’ ” Aviles said.
▪ Sunday: Marlins (TBA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP R.A. Dickey (3-2, 4.29 ERA), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-3, 4.03) vs. Houston Astros (TBA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.