Notebook: Marlins’ Jeff Mathis steps in as Salty gets a rest
MIAMI — With a matinee following a night game, Marlins manager Mike Redmond gave catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia Thursday’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies off.
Backup Jeff Mathis took his place and hit eighth in the order for his 2014 debut.
Last season, the 31-year-old appeared in 73 games and carried the brunt of the work after Rob Brantly struggled and was demoted. His 3.17 catcher’s ERA ranked fifth in baseball among players with as many games played.
"It’s always good to get guys in a little early and you want to make sure like I talked about get everybody in the game and comfortable and a few at-bats," Redmond said. "We’re going to need all 25 guys. We need to make sure we get him in there and comfortable for everybody’s sake."
Over the past two seasons, Saltalamacchia has appeared in 242 games — 223 behind the plate. With a scheduled off day on Monday, Redmond will be able to give his backstop adequate rest.
"He does such a good job calling a game," Redmond said of Mathis. "Day games are a perfect fit for him and another three games and then an off day. It really lines up perfectly for Salty to play three, day off, three, day off and just go from there."
Miami got its first taste of expanded instant replay during Wednesday night’s 6-5 loss.
During a three-run fourth, Derek Dietrich slipped on a potential double-play turn and his throw to second took Adeiny Hechavarria off the bag. That loaded the bases with no outs.
Redmond went out to speak with umpire Jerry Layne, giving the video staff enough time to review the footage and determine whether the club should challenge the call.
"I thought for me at the time the way that game was going both of our guys said they thought that he was out," Redmond said after Wednesday’s game. "I looked at the video and he sure looked like he was out to me. I’m sure the explanation was inconclusive, but I think that’s definitely out of 10 times we’re going to challenge that play 10 times in a row. It didn’t go our way today for whatever reason."
Between Redmond speaking with the umpire and the actual review, more than three minutes elapsed. Starter Henderson Alvarez began tossing warm-up pitches to stay sharp. The call was upheld, meaning the Marlins had no challenges left.
In the bottom half of the inning, Casey McGehee lined a ball down the right-field line. Both he and first-base coach Perry Hill thought it was fair. Redmond went out to speak with umpire Mike Estabrook but got the signal the ball did in fact land in foul territory.
"You’re still at the mercy of the other people looking at it in New York as we saw last night," Redmond said on Thursday. "Not everyone sees it the same way. It’s tough and frustrating as a manager because at the end of the day you don’t know what their judgment of the play is going to be. We feel like we see it one way, they may see it a different way."
LUCAS SURGERY UPDATE
Marlins utility player Ed Lucas came into the clubhouse Thursday morning with his left hand protected by soft padding after surgery on Wednesday.
A pin was inserted in his third metacarpal after sustaining a non-displaced fracture last Thursday from a pitch.
"Apparently it stays in," Lucas said. "I asked the same question. It stays in there unless there’s an infection."
His recovery time remains between 4 to 6 weeks. He cannot do baseball activities, but will continue to work out.
"Everything went according to plan," Lucas said. "I’ll be back in tomorrow and take this thing off and start working out again. It’s all lined up now. I saw an x-ray of it. It looks good."
Worth noting — Marlins 2013 first-round pick Colin Moran has an MCL sprain in his left knee that will sideline him 3 to 4 weeks. He was expected to start the season in Single A Jupiter.