ST. LOUIS -- There was a collective sigh of relief Tuesday afternoon when the Marlins released their lineup with second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. in it for the first time in three days. Unfortunately, he was replaced in the bottom of the second inning of Tuesday night’s 5-3 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
The initial diagnosis is right lower back discomfort, and Chisholm will undergo an MRI on Wednesday morning to uncover the severity. Manager Don Mattingly called the development “discouraging” seeing as Chisholm had to pass pregame tests in order to return.
Postgame, Chisholm said he felt a little discomfort at the beginning of the season on a headfirst slide but had been fine until Friday, when he exited after five innings with back spasms. Chisholm returned to play the entirety of Saturday’s game, which coincided with the club’s Bahamian Heritage Celebration. According to Chisholm, these recent instances of discomfort have surfaced on check swings.
“Around the same [level], so we're going to check it out,” Chisholm said. “Everybody knows I'm not one to ever come out of games. I never want to come out of the game, especially when it's only the first inning and actually try and hit again or something. But today, [I] just had to get out of there.”
Asked how the pain felt on a scale from one to 10, Chisholm said, “It's really up there.” He went on to say it’s “just any kind of movement right now. It’s very uncomfortable.”
If Chisholm were to miss time, what does that mean for the ballclub?
• Chisholm is one of just two left-handed bats in the lineup (Jesús Sánchez is the other) until infielder Joey Wendle is reinstated from the injured list.
• Miami is 26-30 in games Chisholm starts, including Tuesday, and 33-40 overall.
• Bearing in mind he has played more games than he has missed, the Marlins average 4.7 runs per game with him and 3.2 without.
• Chisholm paces the club in homers (14) and RBIs (45).
Erik González replaced Chisholm but played third base, moving Jon Berti from third to second. Mattingly said he didn’t want to send Brian Anderson, who was reinstated from the injured list Monday, out there without much time to get loose and ready. Anderson missed a month due to a mild disk bulge in his back, playing in only three games for Triple-A Jacksonville as part of a rehab assignment.
“We're not going to lose anything defensively,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, Jazz brings a lot to the table with his speed and power. He's our leading RBI guy. A lot of things that we lose with that.”
That much was evident by stellar defensive plays made by Berti, whose 24-game on-base streak ended, and González to keep the Cardinals off the board in the second and third innings.
Mattingly pinch-hit Anderson for González (.616 career OPS) looking for the tying run in the eighth, but he struck out looking to end a 10-pitch at-bat. Though the outcome didn’t pan out, it was an example of what the Marlins were able to do during the first month of the season by playing favorable matchups off the bench.
If there’s any silver lining, Wendle (right hamstring strain) appears close to a return. He appeared in his third rehab game with Triple-A Jacksonville on Tuesday, but the club will be cautious because this is Wendle’s second IL stint this season. In late May, he was reinstated from the IL only to aggravate the injury in his fourth game back.
Something else Miami would miss is the energy Chisholm brings on a daily basis.
“I hate to say [it] all the time,” Mattingly said. “I don't think it's fair to the rest of the guys that he's the one that makes this thing go. But obviously, he's an exciting player. When he's rolling, it's good for everybody. When he's going good, you see the speed, you see the excitement. People get excited.”
“Everybody knows I throw my body out there every day at 100 percent, I give my all, so I want to be out there,” Chisholm said. “I want to be healthy again so I could go out there and give my 100 percent, because if you don't see me diving and sliding around the field running at 100 percent, obviously I'm not giving my all.”