His finger is in a splint. There’s tape around his glove. And, yes, he acknowledged there’s going to be discomfort and adjustments to be made.
But Miguel Rojas was cleared to play, he feels like he can be an active contributor and doesn’t want to miss any more time than he absolutely has to — especially with the Miami Marlins trying to get out of their latest losing skid.
So out Rojas trotted from the visitor’s dugout at Wrigley Field.
The Marlins added Rojas back to the active roster on Friday ahead of their road series opener against the Chicago Cubs. Rojas is playing at his customary shortstop spot and batting fifth. The club also activated right-handed pitcher Cody Poteet from the injured list to start Friday’s game.
In corresponding moves, infielder Isan Diaz and outfielder Lewis Brinson have been optioned to Triple A Jacksonville.
Rojas missed 18 games after sustaining a left index finger dislocation while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt on May 27. Miami went 5-13 in those games, with a 1-11 mark in the 12 road games during that span.
Rojas made a pair of rehab assignment starts with the Triple A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp prior to rejoining the Marlins and went 4 for 8 with a double and a run scored in the two games. He took batting practice at loanDepot park for a few games before joining the Jumbo Shrimp to see velocity in a live setting.
Rojas said he anticipates he’ll feel discomfort for “maybe a couple weeks but that’s nothing that I feel at this moment will keep me away from the field.”
“That’s the biggest reason why I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do right now as soon as I felt better to play,” Rojas said. “That’s why I’m here and in the lineup.”
It will, however, cause Rojas to be a little busier throughout the game. Rojas said his hand won’t be taped when he’s batting but he needs the tape on his glove and hand when he’s playing defense and running the bases.
“This is going to be a thing where sometimes you’re going to maybe see me on the bases and then sprinting back to the dugout so one trainer can wrap it up again,” Rojas said. “That’s something that I need to protect my finger when I’m playing on the field. It’s going to be a little different, but at the end of the day, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be here and try to overcome all the obstacles.”
He will add a steady bat to a Marlins lineup that needs reinforcements while also bringing his Gold Glove-caliber defense back to the infield that is without third baseman Brian Anderson until at least late July. Rojas entered Friday with a .787 on-base-plus slugging mark that ranks fourth among Miami’s regular starters. Rojas’ 14 doubles and 32 runs scored are team highs.
Rojas’ .993 fielding percentage (one error in 146 chances) is second in MLB among starting shortstops behind only the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Kevin Newman.
“It’s going to be good to have Miggy back,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I think of all the injuries, we’ve had — and obviously we lost Star [outfielder Starling Marte] for a period of time — I feel like the Miggy one hurt us as much as any of them.”
Diaz has been the Marlins’ primary third baseman during Anderson’s second stint on the IL this year. He started 12 of the last 21 games at the position, with Jon Berti starting eight and Deven Marrerro starting one.
The Marlins had been pleased with Diaz’s performance on defense as he learned a new position on the fly after almost exclusively playing second base in his career. However, Diaz’s offensive production has been lacking.
Berti should get the bulk of the playing time at third base.
Mattingly responds to Zac Gallen comments
Before he started his pregame news conference Friday, Mattingly gave a minute-long statement denying allegations from former Marlins pitcher Zac Gallen that Michael Hill, now MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations and former Marlins president of baseball operations, encouraged Marlins pitchers to used foreign substances to improve their grip on the baseball.
MLB announced Wednesday it will begin enforcing its policy that bans any substances used to alter the baseball outside of rosin. The penalty is a 10-game suspension and teams being unable to replace the pitcher on the roster while serving that suspension. The policy enforcement begins Monday.
Gallen, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, told reporters in a pregame Zoom call Wednesday said using foreign substances on baseballs has been “a custom and practice for, I would imagine, a lot of organizations, especially the person running that part of the commissioner’s office, who is leading the crackdown.”
He followed up, without naming names, by saying, “He was in charge of an organization that was definitely at one point saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to need these things to help you.’”
Hill denied these allegations.
Mattingly’s full statement is below:
“Before we get started for me, I’ve been watching the news a little bit and I just want to make sure it’s pretty clear that since I’ve been here in Miami, no one from our front office, past or present, has directed us to do anything with any kind of substance on the ball or anything like that. Obviously that kind of stuff is kind of getting obviously getting beat up in the news and there’s a lot of talk about it. I can say that we’ve talked to our players. We’ll probably have another meeting discussing the memo so they’re totally clear on it, but I did want to clear up the front office thing because no one has told us to do anything or directed us to do anything or have guys do that. So, it is one of those things. It’s frustrating. I know it’s something that’s grown in the games. It’s been around. But I know obviously Major League Baseball has put out a policy now. It’s going to enforce it. We’re going to move forward from that. Like I said, our guys will know. They’ll understand it, or at least they’ll have been told enough to understand it. And then we’re going to move forward with the policy.”