Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Saturday that the playoff-contending club hasn’t discussed signing Miami native and resident Alex Rodriguez, whom the Yankees released Saturday.“You’ve got to have a place to play. I know he hasn’t played in the field in a long time. I don’t know where he fits right now,” Mattingly told reporters, per the Associated Press. However, given the injury-forced absence of Justin Bour, Mattingly didn’t rule out the 41-year-old Rodriguez as a first base option for the Marlins. “There’s no reason he couldn’t play first. He has the ability to do a lot of things,” Mattingly stated. “We miss Justin a little bit over there at first. I don’t think we’ve been able to replace that. We’re always looking at ways of getting better in different areas.” The Marlins have been deploying right-handed hitters Miguel Rojas and Chris Johnson in a first base platoon with the lefty-swinging Derek Dietrich, though the former two have registered miserable batting lines this season. The same is true of Rodriguez – hence his release – but he’s only a year removed from hitting a tremendous .263/.394/.532 in 193 plate appearances against southpaws.
More regarding A-Rod and the majors’ two East divisions:
- For his part, Rodriguez seems unsure if he wants to continue his career. After his final game with the Yankees on Friday, the 22-year veteran was reluctant to say he was done. “For all the things I’ve been through, to have a night like tonight, I don’t know what more I can ask for,” he said (Twitter link via David Lennon of Newsday). For what it’s worth, in a survey of 24 executives from around baseball, nearly half (11) told Jayson Stark of ESPN that Rodriguez would return either this season or in time for spring training next year.
- On the heels of his Saturday release from the Nationals, free agent reliever Jonathan Papelbon would welcome a return to Boston, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI (Twitter link). Papelbon, whom the Red Sox selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, had a highly successful run with the club from 2005-11. During that seven-season, 429 1/3-inning span, the right-hander converted over 88 percent of save opportunities (219 of 248) and compiled a 2.33 ERA, 10.67 K/9 and 2.41 BB/9. He’s far less effective now, having lost a few miles per hour on his fastball and his job as Washington’s closer before it released him. However, Boston’s bullpen has posted a 4.14 second-half ERA – the sixth-highest figure in baseball – notes Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Moreover, the Red Sox are without injured setup man Koji Uehara, and closer Craig Kimbrel has scuffled while dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Given their issues, Papelbon is “worth investigating,” Sox president Dave Dombrowski told reporters, including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- Thanks to a clean MRI on Saturday, the Nationals will not place right fielder Bryce Harper on the disabled list, president and general manager Mike Rizzo said (via Alex Putterman of MLB.com). Harper hasn’t taken an at-bat since last Saturday because of a stiff neck, and manager Dusty Baker is wary of playing the 23-year-old in the event the team decides to place him on the DL retroactively. By playing him, Baker would reset the clock on a retroactive DL stint.
- Left-hander Jon Niese is likely to return to the Mets’ rotation at the expense of Logan Verrett, whom the team pulled from its starting five after a disastrous Friday outing, according to Troy Provost-Heron of MLB.com. In an 8-6 loss to the Padres that dropped the Mets to below .500, Verrett yielded all eight runs on six hits (including four home runs) and three walks. Verrett has thrown 60 innings as a starter this year and recorded a 6.45 ERA, 6.15 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9. Niese was a capable option out of the Mets’ rotation from 2010-15, but he struggled this year with the Pirates after an offseason trade, leading Pittsburgh to deal him back to New York prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Niese’s return to the Mets was going well until Thursday, when he gave up six earned runs on three hits and three walks in just an inning of work.