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Rojas avoids DL; Cooper close to rehab games

Infielder could be back in lineup Sunday after scary HBP
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

BALTIMORE -- Marlins infielder Miguel Rojas was out of the lineup for Saturday's 5-4 win against the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but will likely avoid a stint on the disabled list after getting drilled in the left hand by Kevin Gausman's fastball on Friday night.

Rojas left the game in the sixth inning after he was plunked by Gausman's 0-2 offering, which connected squarely with his left hand gripping the bat.

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BALTIMORE -- Marlins infielder Miguel Rojas was out of the lineup for Saturday's 5-4 win against the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, but will likely avoid a stint on the disabled list after getting drilled in the left hand by Kevin Gausman's fastball on Friday night.

Rojas left the game in the sixth inning after he was plunked by Gausman's 0-2 offering, which connected squarely with his left hand gripping the bat.

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The hand was still visibly swollen in the clubhouse prior to the second game of the series on Saturday, but manager Don Mattingly said he could play in an emergency situation.

"If he had to get in the game, I wouldn't be afraid of it," Mattingly said. "It's not like he's going to hurt it, unless obviously he got hit again. It's something he can play with, but it's probably not the best thing [today]."

With his wrist heavily taped, Rojas took some swings in the batting cage earlier Saturday, but Yadiel Rivera started at third instead. Rivera replaced Rojas in Friday night's 2-0 win.

"He felt OK. He actually looked OK, but he wasn't able to put a lot of pressure on his bottom hand," Mattingly said of Rojas' cage work. "He's just really starting to swing good again -- you could see it coming -- and I hate to put him back in there today. He'll probably be in there tomorrow."

Rojas has seen his batting average dip from .264 to .230 over his last 25 games, though he singled and reached base three times in three plate appearances on Friday. Normally a shortstop, he had been filling in at third base while Martin Prado recovers from a strained hamstring.

Cooper coming along

It's like Spring Training all over again for Garrett Cooper, and finally, the 6-foot-6, 230-pounder is getting closer to playing games.

Cooper, the Marlins' Opening Day right fielder, has been on the disabled list since April 5 with a right wrist contusion. With the big league club visiting the Orioles this weekend, the 27-year-old has been conditioning at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Working back at the Marlins' spring facility, Cooper has been hitting and fielding every day, and he could begin a rehab assignment as early as next week. Barring any setbacks, the right-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman could return either late June, or around the All-Star break.

Video: Garrett Cooper on his progress rehabbing his injury

"It's a step in the right direction," Cooper said. "It's been a long 2 1/2 months -- 10 weeks. It's like I'm back in Spring Training all over again."

Cooper was injured in the second game of the season on March 30 against the Cubs. He was struck on the wrist by a Kyle Hendricks' pitch. Initially, the club was optimistic. Cooper's injury seemed minor after an initial X-ray came back negative. But a few days later, further tests revealed he had a partial tear of the tendon sheath in the wrist and he was fitted with a cast.

At least two months of recovery was recommended. In recent weeks, Cooper has been building back up into playing shape.

"The past couple of weeks, I've been [working out at the spring facility]," Cooper said. "The first week was still kind of not full-go, yet. It was still flips in the cage and just throwing.

"The past seven or eight days, it's been on the field for BP, and facing some live pitching the past few days."

Cooper could be an important addition for the Marlins in the second half, because he is a good hitter from the right side.

But once he is ready to return, the organization will have some decisions to make. Rookie Brian Anderson has been in right field, and Derek Dietrich has been in left, with Justin Bour at first base.

Dietrich and Bour are left-handed hitters, so Cooper could see action against lefties at either position. He also could be in right field when Anderson is playing third base.

If everyone is healthy, Cooper provides depth.

"I've kind of been switching each day, taking ground balls at first, or taking balls off the bat in left, or off the bat in right," he said. "Just kind of all over the place to increase versatility."

The organization is making sure he is healthy and ready when he does return to the big leagues. Physically, he is fine.

"You don't want a setback to happen, and you end up missing the rest of the year because the wrist isn't ready," Cooper said. "It's been a long time, but every step we've been taking has been in the right direction."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Ian Quillen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Miami Marlins, Garrett Cooper, Miguel Rojas