MIAMI — Miami Marlins left-hander Brad Hand will be reinstated from the disabled list to start Thursday’s series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hand, who went on the 15-day DL on May 24 with a right ankle sprain, was nearing the end of his rehab stint.
While recovering, Hand went 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in six starts between Single-A Jupiter and Triple-A New Orleans. In 34 innings, he struck out 36 batters and walked 11.
With the Zephyrs, he earned both his decisions and posted a 3.27 ERA. In his most recent start in Nashville, he allowed three runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one. Prior to that, Hand pitched seven scoreless two-hit innings with six strikeouts and four walks against Sacramento.
"I felt real good," Hand said. "It was nice to go down there and get some innings in. Used to be a starter, get some innings in and get everything comfortable again."
The 24-year-old, who is out of options, began the season as a long reliever after losing out on the fifth spot in the rotation to right-hander Tom Koehler.
Hand did start two April games in Jacob Turner’s place when the latter suffered a fluke shoulder sprain swinging a bat. In 16 games (two starts), Hand held a 0-1 record and 6.38 ERA. As a reliever, he had a 4.58 ERA compared with 11.37 as a starter.
The biggest challenge for him remains getting ahead in the count and throwing strikes. He walked 16 and struck out 20 in 24 innings. What went wrong before the injury?
"Just not pitching as often out of the bullpen," Hand said. "When you’re starting, you’re in a routine. You lose feel for certain pitches, and this is the first time I threw out of the bullpen. It’s a learning period."
Manager Mike Redmond called Hand’s return to the rotation an audition. The spot has seen its share of candidates: Turner was relegated to the bullpen, veteran Randy Wolf designated for assignment and rookie Anthony DeSclafani sent to Triple-A New Orleans.
How long Hand stays in the rotation depends on how he performs. Since making his major-league debut in 2011, Hand has bounced back and forth. In 36 big-league games, he is 2-11 with a 4.90 ERA.
"I think we’ll see how it goes," Redmond said. "We’ve tried some different guys, really an opportunity for somebody to run with it. We’d love for Brad Hand to step in there and be great and be the guy for the rest of this season. That would be outstanding and make things a lot easier for all of us. Really it’s up to him. He’s been down and got some innings in and from all the reports I’ve heard he’s pitching great. We really want him to go out there and pitch and show us what he can do and win that job."
If all goes according to plan, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria will rejoin the club Sunday in St. Louis.
Hechavarria, who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled on that day, has been nursing a right triceps strain.
The 25-year-old felt discomfort June 21 when he played catch before batting practice and became a late scratch. He took grounders and threw to first Wednesday and will try that again Thursday.
Should he continue to feel good, Hechavarria will play a rehab game in Jupiter on Friday. Could he return on Sunday?
"It more depends on how he feels this next couple days and how he bounces back," Redmond said. "Make sure everything feels good. We don’t want him to have any discomfort, make sure he feels 100 percent. If that’s Sunday, if that’s Monday, Tuesday, whatever it is.
"Biggest concern for us is he’s feeling 100 percent so he can finish off the season strong and not have this."
BOUR IS BACK
The Marlins recalled first baseman Justin Bour from Triple-A New Orleans as the corresponding move with right-handed reliever A.J. Ramos on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Bour was sent down five days ago to call up an extra arm for the bullpen after a 14-inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was allowed to come back up because of Ramos’ injury.
"We’ve been short for at least two of those long-inning games," Redmond said of the bench. "It’s tough, but that’s the way it goes. We needed the pitching. Those games had forced us to use the bullpen a lot and guys were tired, getting worn out, so we needed the extra pitcher."
The 26-year-old is in his third stint with the club this season. He is 6 for 20 (.300) with a double, three walks, seven strikeouts and four RBI. Of his 13 appearances, just three have been starts — the last of which came June 11.
Bour is hitless in eight plate appearances as a pinch-hitter with an RBI, a run and two walks. In 60 games for the Zephyrs, he had knocked 20 doubles, 11 homers and 43 RBI.
"He’s been here, brings us some left-handed power off the bench, a guy that can fill in at first base if we needed him," Redmond said. "Really it just gives us another bat off the bench and a weapon."
Miami announced three international signings: outfielder Anderson Castro and shortstop Angel Villalobo of Venezuela as well as right-hander Alberto Guerrero of Panama.