Alfaro (hamstring) goes on IL; León selected

April 21st, 2021

MIAMI -- The Marlins placed catcher on the 10-day injured list and selected the contract of prior to Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Orioles at loanDepot park. León made quite the first impression, going 2-for-3 with a heads-up baserunning play in the decisive three-run fifth and catching Miami’s second shutout of the season.

León, who received the call during the fifth inning of a game at the alternate training site in Jacksonville, Fla., said he was grateful to be back in the big leagues. The nine-year veteran, who signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training in January, was brought into the organization to bolster the catching depth and guide the starting staff.

"It's a young team, it's a really good pitching team, and they have really young guys who can really pitch and can throw the ball here," said León, who helped rookie lefty Trevor Rogers throw a career-high seven innings on Wednesday. "I'm good at calling games and recognizing the guys on the mound, so I feel like that was one thing that pushed me to sign with the Marlins."

The 32-year-old was one of three backstops at the ATS after slashing .333/.474/.467 with a .940 OPS in 12 Grapefruit League games. León was a member of the 2018 World Series-winning Red Sox, and in nine-plus big league seasons, he has hit .216/.284/.327 with a .611 OPS. He is known more for his mastery behind the dish, tallying 26 defensive runs saved above average from 2017-18.

"For us, I think this is a huge add," Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. "You don't find, particularly for this position, you don't necessarily find catchers of Sandy's caliber left out there when we did. So to add a player like Sandy, I think we're very fortunate to have him be at our ATS and on our taxi squad the last road trip. But we're glad to have him. I think he should be able to handle everything quite adequately."

Chad Wallach is the other catcher on the 40-man roster. This marks the second consecutive season the Marlins have had to turn to a veteran catcher because of an IL stint; last year, it was Francisco Cervelli. When asked how reps might be split between the pair, manager Don Mattingly said it should be fairly close – anywhere from 50-50, 55-45 or 52-48.

“I don't think it's like [an] every-other-day-type thing with these guys,” Mattingly said. “It depends. I think we could look at matchups a little bit. Obviously, Sandy's a switch-hitter. I think it's pretty close. I don't think either guy you're going to say, 'I'm going to run him out five, six days a week.' And the other guy gets to play every once in a while. It's going to be more probably a general split."

Headed on a three-city, 10-day road trip following Wednesday's game, Miami has lost two starting position players in the past two days. Alfaro exited Tuesday's 7-5 loss in the fourth inning with left hamstring soreness after running out a grounder and reaching on a fielding error. From April 7-12, he missed four games with left hamstring tightness before starting five of Miami's next seven. The coaching staff had asked him to turn his running down to about 80% in the hopes of not aggravating the injury. Center fielder Starling Marte went on the IL on Tuesday with a non-displaced fracture in his 12th rib (left side).

Tuesday night’s starter Nick Neidert was optioned to the alternate training site, with the Marlins fielding 25 players (13 pitchers and 12 position players) for Wednesday’s finale. The 40-man roster is now full.

Latest on injured pitchers
• On Sixto Sánchez (right shoulder inflammation): "We're definitely still a bit of a ways out," Ng said.
• On Elieser Hernandez (right biceps inflammation): "We're hoping that he'll throw a bullpen next week," Ng said.
• When asked whether there's an expectation that Edward Cabrera (inflamed nerve in his right biceps) will pitch in the Minors this season, Ng said: "Yes, that is our hope that he will be back."

Starting point for top prospects?
Ng was asked at which Minor League levels outfielder JJ Bleday (MLB Pipeline's No. 17 overall) and right-hander Max Meyer (No. 24 overall) might begin their seasons. Opening Day for all Marlins MiLB affiliates is set for May 4. Bleday played at Class A Advanced in 2019 before participating at the alternate training site in 2020. Meyer, who was invited to big league camp this spring but didn’t pitch in a Grapefruit League game, also took part in the ATS after being drafted last June.

"I don't think that those decisions have been made yet on where these guys are going to go," Ng said. "I think that'll come these last two weeks."