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Marte injury overshadows win vs. Marlins

MRI on Wednesday showed lower-back inflammation for NL All-Star
@SteveGilbertMLB
September 19, 2019

PHOENIX -- The D-backs kept their slim postseason hopes alive by beating the Marlins, 5-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field, but it looks like they might have to finish out the year without 2019 National League All-Star Ketel Marte. Marte had an MRI on Wednesday that showed inflammation in

PHOENIX -- The D-backs kept their slim postseason hopes alive by beating the Marlins, 5-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field, but it looks like they might have to finish out the year without 2019 National League All-Star Ketel Marte.

Marte had an MRI on Wednesday that showed inflammation in his lower back.

“We are going to schedule a precautionary CT scan just to thoroughly investigate the area,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “So we’ll do that [Thursday] morning.”

Box score

The D-backs flew to San Diego following Wednesday’s game and will have Thursday off before opening a three-game series with the Padres at Petco Park on Friday night. Marte is scheduled to rejoin the team after his CT scan, but whether he plays or not is another matter.

“It’s actually been something that’s been bothering me for the past two months,” Marte said. “The decision [whether to play again this year] isn’t really up to me, but the objective is to [not] make things worse. There’s only nine games left in the year. Of course, the confidence is there to be able to come back, but the main objective is to be careful and not re-aggravate it.”

Arizona has leaned heavily this year on Marte, who started the 2019 All-Star Game at second base for the NL squad. He has been asked to play center field, a position he had played just twice before in the big leagues, as well as second and, occasionally, shortstop.

The last time Marte did not start a game before Wednesday was on Aug. 31, though he did pinch-hit in that late-summer game.

“I think it was just an accumulation of the pounding and the year he’s had,” Lovullo said. “I had a tiny conversation with him about it, and he said that his hips have been a little bit sore and tired, and I think that’s all tied into that low-back area.”

Marte has hit .329/.389/.592 this year, collecting 32 homers and 36 doubles. He said he thinks playing center as much as he has (96 games) is what may have caused his back to flare up.

“It’s really about my first year playing in center field,” he said. “I feel like next year when I’m more used to playing center and I have all that experience under my belt, then my body will be more conditioned to play the outfield.”

Marte’s move to center became necessary when the D-backs lost A.J. Pollock to free agency and were unable to acquire a true center fielder to replace him.

Given his athleticism, Arizona decided to try playing Marte in the outfield. He turned out to be a quick study, and he has not had any issues there this year.

Moving back and forth between center and second certainly didn’t slow Marte’s bat. He came into Wednesday leading the NL in hits (187), multihit games (59) and total bases (337).

“I am really happy with it,” he said. “I can only put my faith in God and see what happens from now on, but based on the season I’ve had, I’m really happy with my numbers, with the way I’ve performed, and I really couldn’t have asked anything more of what 2019 has been for me.”

The D-backs are 4 1/2 games behind the Brewers and Cubs for the second NL Wild Card spot. With just nine games left on Arizona’s schedule, it would take a historic finish to catch those teams.

The D-backs finished their six-game homestand with a 3-3 mark. They came into Wednesday having lost eight of their previous 10 games. On Wednesday, they got home runs from Abraham Almonte and Christian Walker, delivering enough runs for starter Mike Leake (12-11) to get the win, despite yielding three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.

“They believe that they can win out,” Lovullo said of his team. “I know that’s what’s going on inside that clubhouse. The frustration is when something doesn’t go good during the course of the game that they have to reboot and reload, which is what they did today.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.