MIAMI — Miami Marlins infielder Donovan Solano was one of the final cuts this past spring training.
Hours later, Ed Lucas broke his hand and Solano made the Opening Day roster with a bench role. In 2013, he served as the starting second baseman.
Though he has been up and down between the majors and Triple-A New Orleans this season, Solano has made the most of his opportunities when called upon.
Last night in the 3-0 victory, Solano blasted his second homer — a two-out, two-run shot off the left-field foul pole.
Solano’s two dingers this season have come off All-Stars Adam Wainwright and David Price. Each hit means something to him, but particularly his knock on Tuesday. The Marlins acquired Solano from the Cardinals in 2012.
"He’s a big part, he’s a valuable part," manager Mike Redmond said. "A guy who can play multiple positions, gives us a good at-bat. He plays great defense. You talk about bringing guys off the bench, and it’s nice to have guys who can do different things and be solid defensively. You need to have that.
"He’s had some big at-bats, gotten some big hits. He got a big hit in Cincinnati, two home runs off great pitchers. What he’s been able to do in a short amount of at-bats has been great. He’s one of those guys you talk about who helps you get to the playoffs. It’s the bench guys. Sometimes it’s not the everyday players because eventually you’ve got to give those guys a blow."
Over his last 30 games, Solano is batting .333 with five doubles, a homer and seven RBI. The 26-year-old has a hit in 24 of his 29 starts this year, posting a .297 average. His .344 average in July ranked seventh among all NL players.
"My mentality is stay focused every time for one at-bat or for the start of the game," Solano said. "I try to stay in my game, approach, do the small things for the team. I try not to think about that stuff because I don’t have control of that and think about what I can control. Stay in my game, stay in my position. It’s not easy, but I work every day on that approach. Keep doing that."
More than a decade has passed since right-hander Brad Penny started a game in South Florida while wearing a Marlins uniform.
On July 28, 2004, Penny received a no decision after five innings, allowing two runs on five hits in his final outing as a Florida Marlin. When Miami opens its series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, he will start at Marlins Park for the first time.
"It’s been a long time since I’ve pitched in Miami," Penny said. "I’ve got a lot of good memories in Miami. It should be exciting."
The 36-year-old signed a minor-league deal in mid-June and made his first start in the big leagues since 2011 on Saturday. Penny picked up the win against the Reds, giving up two runs on four hits over five frames. He walked four and struck out three.
When told Marlins Park plays in pitchers’ favor, Penny acknowledged the solid defense that will be backing him up in the infield and outfield.
"These guys play their butts off out there," Penny said. "Gives you even more confidence to pitch to contact. It looks like a great park, and honestly, I was surprised by how many fans (were) here. I’ve got a lot left. The velocity is down but not too much. My arm feels good. I feel healthy, so just have to pitch a little more than I had to (in the past)."
TIME TO CELEBRATE
Since 1992, Aug. 13 has been known as Left-Handers Day.
Left-hander Mike Dunn, who collected his first save of the season on Tuesday night by recording the final out, is the only lefty in his family.
"Growing up in sports I grew up watching Ken Griffey Jr.," Dunn said. "I played first and outfield and always wanted my swing to be like his. Pitchers — Randy Johnson because he was so dominant."
According to Left-Handers Day history, the club hopes to not only celebrate the uniqueness but also raise public awareness about the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed.
What was the toughest part for Dunn? School.
"Writing an essay and using a pen because it’s all over your hand," Dunn said. "You always had to use loose leaf paper because of the binder. Your hand just dragged through it all. You would look at it later on and it looked like an ink pad."
Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings has been symptom free for the past two days and played catch on Wednesday, according to Redmond.
Jennings was struck in the head by a liner last Thursday in Pittsburgh. He was placed on the seven-day concussion list after undergoing CT scans and staying overnight in a local hospital for observation.
"We’ll see how that goes," Redmond said. "He’s got to have — I don’t even know the protocol — but a certain amount of days symptom free before he can take that next step."
— Right-handed reliever Carter Capps continues to throw bullpens and will soon start facing hitters.
Capps is currently on the 60-day DL with a right elbow sprain (retroactive May 26). Asked whether he expects Capps to be available in September, Redmond said yes.
"If he continues," Redmond said. "I don’t exactly know his timeline but I think that’s when we’re anticipating him being ready to go around that time. It might be a little before. Right around Sept. 1."
— Second baseman Derek Dietrich remains the same in his recovery from a right wrist strain (retroactive July 2). He has been taking batting practice but has not played in games. Redmond said it’s "safe to say" he would be back in September.