Lucas returns from disabled list as Miami seeks more versatility on roster
MIAMI -- Versatility got the nod over experience on Tuesday afternoon as the Marlins announced Greg Dobbs has been designated for assignment, and Ed Lucas has been reinstated from the disabled list.
Dobbs, 35, was a veteran presence and a primary pinch-hit option since he made the club in 2011 as a non-roster invitee. A left-handed hitter, Dobbs was considered part of the team's maturation process. In the middle of last season, he quietly negotiated a one-year, $1.7 million extension for 2014.
But Miami, already with second baseman Rafael Furcal on the disabled list, was looking for as much versatility as possible. Lucas, 31, provides that.
Lucas was set to make the club as a utility player out of Spring Training, but on March 27 -- four days before the season started -- he suffered a broken left hand after being hit by a pitch.
Lucas can play all four infield positions, and he is an emergency catcher option.
"Versatility being the biggest key there, and just feeling like where Dobbs was and where we were as a team, it was the right thing to do," Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said.
The Marlins wasted little time getting Lucas into game action, as he started at second base on Tuesday in the series opener with Atlanta.
As for covering pinch-hit duties, Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker and Lucas are right-handed-hitting options.
Lucas initially was expected to miss four to six weeks after he underwent surgery to insert a pin in his left hand. But he healed quickly, and was called up in a comparatively short period of time. He plans on wearing a padding over his batting glove to protect the hand.
"The initial prognosis was four to six weeks," Lucas said. "The way it felt then I felt that wouldn't be possible. I had the surgery, came back quickly. I feel nice and strong now."
A telling sign that the Marlins were looking in another direction came on April 21, when left-handed-hitting Derek Dietrich pinch-hit and delivered a double off Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.
Normally, that would have been a situation for Dobbs, who has 96 career pinch-hits.
"Great guy," Jennings said. "The best in the big leagues at what he did, that's pinch-hit, with 96 of them. We just felt like where he was at this time in here career, and us needing the versatility to have guys who can play multiple positions, it was important for us to have that at this point. That was the reason behind it.
"It's never a good thing when you have to move a player, certainly someone who has meant to us as much as Dobbs has. But it was time for us as an organization to make that move. Ed was ready to go."
Dobbs did not see action in the field in any games this season, and he was 1-for-13 as a pinch-hitter.
Dobbs is a .262 career pinch-hitter.
Lucas played in three rehab assignment games with Class A Jupiter, and he was 6-for-14 (.429).
The Marlins have 10 days to potentially trade Dobbs. If no deal is worked out, he could either accept the assignment to Triple-A New Orleans or become a free agent and try to sign elsewhere.
Lucas offers more middle infield depth for Miami. Furcal was believed to be getting close to returning, but he suffered a setback while on rehab assignment with Double-A Jacksonville.
Furcal, on the disabled list since Opening Day with a strained left hamstring, was returned from his rehab assignment due to a strained right groin.