JUPITER -- The Marlins are in a world of hurt.
With injuries piling up by the day, this is one time when the Marlins probably wish they could postpone Thursday’s Opening Day by about a month, or at least enough time for everyone to heal.
“Can we do that? Is that possible?” asked manager Don Mattingly.
He was only half-kidding.
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As if the coming season won’t be challenging enough for the rebuilding Marlins, they’re expected to start the season with a number of key position players and pitchers on the disabled list.
— Catcher J.T. Realmuto.
— Shortstop JT Riddle.
— Third baseman Martin Prado.
— Starting pitcher Dan Straily.
— Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen.
— Reliever Brian Ellington.
Pitchers Elieser Hernandez and Brett Graves, the Marlins’ two Rule 5 draft picks, are also expected to start out on the DL.
“It’s giving us some challenges,” Mattingly said. “But we shouldn’t look at it like ‘poor us’ in any way.”
Mattingly delivered the latest dose of bad news Saturday when he said Straily would miss more time with right forearm inflammation. Straily, who was to be the Marlins’ second-day starter, won’t resume throwing again until Friday and likely wouldn’t be available to join the rotation until mid-April.
Straily said Saturday he is feeling no discomfort in the arm. But Mattingly said doctors don’t want him throwing to ensure “there’s nothing in there” when it comes time for him to resume building arm strength.
Then there’s Realmuto.
When Realmuto sustained a lower back injury on April 11, the belief was he would be ready for Opening Day. But Realmuto only recently started throwing and hasn’t taken any swings, all but guaranteeing a forthcoming trip to the DL.
“He’s progressing, but obviously not at the pace you would like,” Mattingly said.
Riddle, who is working his way back from last summer’s surgery on his left shoulder, hasn’t seen any Grapefruit League action and is dealing with a sore right shoulder that limits his throwing strength.
“It’s not exactly how we would have liked it to go so far,” Mattingly said.
Prado (knee) and Chen (arm) were already targeted for the DL.
But there was some positive news for both. Prado was put through sprints Saturday while Chen is scheduled to throw batting practice on Sunday for the first time all spring.
Hernandez, who missed more than 10 days after having a wisdom tooth extracted, returned to the mound Saturday for a 20-pitch bullpen session.
With so many injuries and final rosters due Wednesday, the Marlins are hesitant to make as many cuts as they would normally. The spring roster numbers 42 players, a high figure this late in spring.
Riddle’s injury could open a roster spot for infielder Peter Mooney while Chad Wallach could get on with Realmuto’s injury, providing backup catching help for Tomas Telis.
The starting rotation is also fuzzy.
While Mattingly has announced Jose Urena as his Opening Day starter, he hasn’t gone beyond that in identifying his other four starters. Those could include Odrisamer Despaigne, Jacob Turner, Caleb Smith and Justin Nicolino.
But the Marlins could also consider calling up Adam Conley, Dillon Peters, Sandy Alcantara and Jarlin Garcia, as well as non-roster invite Trevor Richards. Richards turned in six strong innings on Saturday against the Nationals and beat Max Scherzer for the second time in a week. Mattingly didn’t dismiss the possibility of the front office making a deal to acquire pitching help from outside.
For now, all options are on the table.
“There’s definitely been some challenges with the stuff that’s going on,” Mattingly said. “But it’s just where we’re at. It’s just part of the challenges that any organization goes through in a season.”