Rojas picks up where he left off before injury

Infielder filling in while shortstop Riddle rests sore shoulder

July 23rd, 2017

So much for needing to shake off the rust.

, who missed more than two months with a fractured right thumb, has picked up where he left off. The 28-year-old had an RBI single Sunday in the Marlins' 6-3 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

When Rojas broke his thumb on May 7 at the Mets, he was batting .338. After going 1-for-4 in the series finale vs. Cincinnati, he's hitting .325. A super utility player who is making a case to be a regular infielder, Rojas has started at shortstop the past four games because JT Riddle is resting a sore left shoulder.

"You feel really good about everything with Miggy, because he's come so far," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He was a guy with the reputation of having a good glove, and not going to hit. But he's really worked hard. He's stayed with it, and he plays multiple positions in the infield. He's turned himself into a pretty good hitter."

The Marlins didn't manufacture much offense on Sunday, but in the seventh inning, Rojas' RBI single scored A.J. Ellis, who had doubled.

"It's good to be back with the boys," Rojas said. "I think the energy that you feel in the big league levels is different than when you play in the Minors or when you play in a rehab game. I was trying to get ready for this opportunity for this situation because I knew I was going to get my opportunities to play a little bit more, and I want to make sure that I'm ready to go. I'm pretty happy with these couple days."

With the Marlins at 44-52 and in fourth place in the National League East, they're already evaluating for their future.

Riddle, a left-handed hitter, is being groomed as the potential regular shortstop, with Rojas a right-handed-hitting option. But Rojas offers value because he can also play third base, second and first at a high level.

Miami's everyday third baseman, , is on the 10-day disabled list with a right knee sprain. has been playing regularly in place of Prado, but Rojas also can fill in at third base, as well as give second baseman Dee Gordon a breather.

The Marlins open a three-game series at Texas on Monday, and Mattingly said he hopes Riddle can play either of the first two games. From May 13 through Tuesday, Riddle started every game for Miami at shortstop.

Rojas provides some relief, and the Marlins are hopeful Riddle will avoid a stint on the disabled list.

"We're trying to buy time for JT," Mattingly said. "There's been some improvement, but again, I'd like to get him healthy. But on the other side of that coin, I've got to watch Miggy from the standpoint of playing too much or too many days in a row."