Pirates-Marlins Preview

BY foxsports • June 2, 2016

Just when the Miami Marlins welcomed back Giancarlo Stanton, they lost another key member of the lineup.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping one of theirs is ready to return.

While the availability of Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco remains uncertain, Miami must move forward without Derek Dietrich and will look for Stanton to have a better showing in Thursday night's series finale.

Stanton returned Wednesday after missing seven games with soreness in his right side from an outfield collision with Marcell Ozuna. He batted fifth for the first time this season but went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a walk, dropping his average to .210.

Ozuna was in Stanton's regular cleanup spot but struck out twice and is 0 for 9 in this series. Miami (28-25) has no homers in the three games but won the last two, including 3-2 on Wednesday on Adeiny Hechevarria's tiebreaking double in the eighth.

That hit followed Dietrich getting hit by a pitch and leaving the field holding his left forearm with an injury which appeared more serious than just a bruise.

"It didn't sound good from him," manager Don Mattingly said. "He felt like something happened right away. Usually guys hang in there and say, `Wait, wait,' but he knew something right away, which is not great, but hopefully we get some good news."

Dietrich's .333 batting average in May was second on the team to Ozuna (.411), and his .403 on-base percentage for the season ranks second to Christian Yelich. Dietrich had been filling in at second base for suspended All-Star Dee Gordon, so it appears Miguel Rojas will take over - as he did Sunday when Dietrich was struck in the head by a foul ball.

Pirates utilityman Sean Rodriguez could remain in right field in place of Polanco, who sat out Wednesday due to discomfort from fouling a ball off his left foot Tuesday. Polanco didn't undergo X-rays but was sent to a doctor.

"It's a fluid situation," trainer Todd Tomczyk told MLB's official website. "He came in with some increased discomfort, so we're making sure we take the necessary steps to ensure his short- and long-term health."

Polanco has a team-high 36 RBIs, including 13 over his last seven games while batting .379 with three homers. The Pirates have been held to exactly two runs in all four games Polanco hasn't started.

Pittsburgh (29-23) has failed to score more than twice in four of its last five games, losing each time.

The club will try to get untracked against Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.37 ERA). He labored through May, pitching past the sixth inning only once in five starts while posting a 1.46 WHIP. That mark was 1.11 in April.

Chen needed 39 pitches to get through the fourth inning Saturday against Atlanta and was pulled after the fifth, but he allowed just one run, two hits and one walk in a no-decision.

The right-hander won his only career start against Pittsburgh in 2012. Rodriguez is 4 for 23 (.174) against him.

Opposing Chen will be Juan Nicasio (4-4, 4.79), who is coming off a mediocre May and with little reason to think June will begin well.

It's been the worst month of Nicasio's career, going 1-7 with a 7.55 ERA in 24 appearances. Plus, he'll be pitching on the road, where he's 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts. He lost his only outing in Miami back in 2012.

Nicasio didn't have a quality start in four games last month, posting a 6.75 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP.

Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison is batting .480 during an eight-game hitting streak.

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