Marlins release Jeff Baker among several roster moves

BY foxsports • July 31, 2015

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins made several roster moves Friday afternoon, including releasing infielder Jeff Baker and recalling pitching prospect Jose Urena from Triple-A New Orleans.

Miami also reinstated infielder Donovan Solano from the paternity list to take Michael Morse's bench spot after Morse was traded -- and subsequently designated for assignment -- by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With right-hander Mat Latos shipped off to Los Angeles in the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers, Urena will rejoin the rotation and start Saturday's game against the San Diego Padres.

The 23-year-old right-hander went 1-4 with a 4.04 ERA in nine games (seven starts) over two stints with the Marlins. Over his final five outings, he boasted a 2.51 ERA, giving up just one earned run in three of them.

Since his return to the Zephyrs on July 4, Urena held a 2-1 record and 4.45 ERA over five starts. In 30 1/3 innings, he surrendered 15 earned runs on 34 hits with seven walks and 19 strikeouts.

"He really didn't do anything to earn his way out of the rotation, it was just a case we were getting a healthy Latos back and a veteran guy moved him out," manager Dan Jennings said. "I think Urena's opportunity and what he did while he was here certainly has warranted the fact he comes back and becomes one of five."

With the departure of veteran Dan Haren, the Marlins will also need to fill his spot in the rotation. Triple-A options include left-handers Adam Conley (9-3, 2.52 ERA) and Justin Nicolino (6-7, 3.55 ERA) as well as righty Kendry Flores (3-2, 2.25 ERA). All three guys earned their call-ups earlier in the year.

With the Marlins virtually out of postseason contention, they can allow young pitchers -- possible future arms in the rotation for years to come -- to get valuable big-league experience to close out the year.

"Some of these guys that are going to come back will get the ball the remainder of the year," Jennings said. "It'll be a great opportunity for them to showcase their abilities and give us a chance to access where we are and what needs to be looked at in the offseason."

Added president of baseball operations Michael Hill: "We have a number of young starting pitching that some of you have seen already in the big leagues. You've seen Jose Urena already in the big leagues. Nicolino, Adam conley, Kendry Flores are some of those other guys. I think we'll take a deep breath now that the deadline is over and I would suspect that you could see any combination of those young men moving forward"

Baker, who had been on the disabled list since July 8 with a left oblique strain, discovered Tuesday that he actually had a broken bone in his rib. His timetable still remains 6 to 8 weeks, which would've brought his return sometime into September with his contract up at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old was the ballclub's go-to pinch-hitter before his injury. But in just 41 games this season, he hit .208 (15 for 72) with three doubles, three homers and eight RBI. Over parts of two seasons, Baker posted a .250 average with 13 doubles, four triples, six homers and 36 RBI in 131 games (305 plate appearances).

While he didn't want to delve into the business side of the move, Baker noted the "change in direction" with veterans guys getting moved and the organization trying to "rebuild." His absence likely spells more time for Casey McGehee, whom the Marlins signed earlier this month.

"The good thing for me is the relationships I got to build with these guys, help mold some of these younger players and build that stuff with them now just see how they go and take off," Baker said.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.



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