MIAMI — Miami Marlins top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney would check the score of the big-league club every day while in Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
Last night, though, Heaney found a travel itinerary at his locker in Albuquerque that would forever change the way he kept up to date with results in the majors.
The Marlins made several significant moves prior to Monday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs, including the long-awaited call-up of Heaney.
"I’m excited," said Heaney, who will make his debut Thursday against the New York Mets. "It seems like a positive atmosphere that everybody’s excited for this team and wanting to win. I don’t want to hold them back. I want to help contribute, and that’s my main goal is to help this team win games."
Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf and long reliever Kevin Slowey were both designated for assignment, and infielder Donovan Solano was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Wolf (1-3, 5.26 ERA), whom the club signed May 14 following the season-ending injury to Jose Fernandez, had struggled in three of his four starts in his return from a second Tommy John surgery.
On Saturday, Wolf allowed five runs on nine hits in just four innings in an 8-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Slowey (1-1, 5.30 ERA) followed Wolf in that game and gave up three runs on six hits in two frames. The Marlins mounted a comeback with four runs in the ninth but fell short.
This marks two straight years Slowey has made the club as a non-roster invitee only to see his season end during the summer. Last year, his last outing came July 25 before being sidelined with right forearm tightness.
Three of Heaney’s minor-league teammates — right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and first baseman Justin Bour — were also welcomed back to the majors.
These transactions signify a concerted effort to shore up a team just one game back in the National League East.
"It was more when Heaney was ready to go, and Wolf is a pro and we thank him for his time with the organization, but Andrew Heaney is part of our immediate future and for many years to come," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We wanted to get him here in the thick of the race and help this ballclub.
"We’re trying to win. He’s a part of what were trying to do here. We think every fifth day he’ll give us a chance to go out there and win a ballgame."
Designating Wolf and Slowey opened up space on the 40-man roster for Heaney, who went 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts since being promoted from the Suns to the Zephyrs.
The former Oklahoma State University product was Miami’s ninth overall selection in the 2012 draft.
"I believe I am (ready)," Heaney said from the dugout at Marlins Park, wearing No. 25. "Obviously I don’t think I’m just going to come in and know everything. I have a lot of stuff to learn, but I feel like if they didn’t think I was ready they wouldn’t have called me up. I felt like I was ready and I just want to contribute and help the team."
DeSclafani will take over righty Jacob Turner’s spot in the rotation beginning Tuesday. He went 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two starts last month in place of Fernandez.
The 24-year-old won his debut at Dodger Stadium by allowing two runs on seven hits over six innings. He dropped his home start against the Philadelphia Phillies by giving up five runs over 5 1/3. Acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012, DeSclafani was 4-5 with a 3.92 ERA between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans this season.
Turner will move to the bullpen in Slowey’s job as the long guy. The organization hasn’t given up on him as a starter, and he can still win the role back.
Over the past two weeks, the rotation is 4-3 with a 5.22 ERA, second-worst in the majors behind only the Colorado Rockies.
"We’ve all seen it," manager Mike Redmond said. "Starting pitching — we have to pitch and our starting pitching’s so important to our ballclub. Over the past 10 days it’s been a struggle to get a good start and consistent starts. When we talk about sustaining winning streaks the No. 1 thing I go to is our pitching staff."
Christian Yelich is headed to the 15-day disabled list with lower back stiffness, bringing Marisnick back up. He was scheduled to start Monday’s game in center field and bat leadoff.
Marisnick, who missed out on the center-field job to Marcell Ozuna this spring, was hitting .264 with six homers and 27 RBI in 67 games with the Zephyrs. The 23-year-old struggled upon his big-league call-up last year, batting .183 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and five RBI in 40 games. He also had offseason knee surgery.
Bour will provide a left-handed bat off the bench. During his first call-up, he hit .385 with two runs and two RBI.
Solano was batting .196 with a homer and six RBI in 35 games in a bench role. He and Ed Lucas were serving the same role, making one seemingly obsolete. Lucas won the job in spring, but went on the DL with a broken hand. Solano will play at both short and the outfield in the minors.
Finally, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was transferred to the 15-day disabled list with a concussion. He was beginning his rehab in Jupiter on Monday.
"Even though they’re young guys there’s of course that uncertainty with young players how they’re going to handle the big leagues and react, but we just felt like this was the right time and perfect time and hopefully they’ll go out there and have success and help us win," Redmond said.