Burke Badenhop could have gotten upset earlier this week when manager Fredi Gonzalez told him he was going back to the bullpen. After pitching five strong innings in a win over the Phillies, Badenhop could have asked Gonzalez to give him one more shot at his dream instead of handing the ball back to Anibal Sanchez Tuesday. But he didn't.
Instead, he returned to the role the Marlins set out for him in the spring -- long reliever -- and delivered once again Tuesday. He pitched five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit from the fourth through the eighth innings as the Marlins cruised to a 10-3 win.
So why is a 26-year old right-hander who started eight games for the Marlins in 2008 ok with taking a step back as the Marlins put together a talented young starting rotation? He sees value in his role.
"All my friends say 'You want to start, you want to start," Badenhop said. "I’ve always been a starter. That’s good, great and everything. But in certain capacities you do what you got to do. Hopefully, one day that can happen. But at this point now, I feel like I’m a valuable part of this team in whatever I can do. Whether its an inning here or five innings there, I feel like I’m versatile enough to handle it."
Versatile and valuable might be the best way to describe the sinker ball pitcher over the past few weeks. Since giving up four runs to the Dodgers on May 17th and seeing his ERA rise to 6.00, he's been rather dominant. Including his start in Philly, Badenhop has given up just two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings the last three times he's been handed the ball. His record has improved to 4-2 and his ERA has dropped down to 4.15.
"This is my job – to do what I’ve been doing," Badenhop said. "I’ve been put in a lot of different situations. I welcome those. Anibal [Sanchez] is one of our five starters. For our team to be really good, you need guys to be able to back them up in the bullpen and I hope to be available in whatever capacity."
The biggest problem now for Badenhop? Settling on a nickname. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has been calling him the Hopper since he first got called up to the big league club in April last year. But after pouring in a career-high five innings of relief Tuesday, teammate Ross Gload came up with another -- Dragon.
"In college, everybody called me Bades," said Badenhop, who was 9-2 with a 3.73 ERA at Bowling Green as a senior. "I kind of like Hopper. It's definitely better than Ross' nickname. I'm a skinny white guy with no tattoos and a pretty unsuspecting guy to be called Dragon."
> Expect to see Anibal Sanchez start Sunday -- despite his three innings and 71 pitches on Tuesday. Gonzalez said if it weren't for the fact Brewers fouled so many pitches off Sanchez early, he probably would have thrown fewer than 40 pitches in the first and would have been around longer. Gonzalez said Sanchez will probably be able to throw 85 to 95 pitches in his next start.
> When utility man Alfredo Amezaga first injured his knee rounding third base on May 16 against the Dodgers the feeling was he'd return in a few days. That timetable, however, keeps expanding. Amezaga, who has been on the disabled list since May 17, is nowhere near a return according to Gonzalez.
"We haven’t even spoken about him going any further than he is now, which is getting treatment and see how he feels," Gonzalez said. "We’ve seen improvement there, but nothing significant where you can say he’s going to say he’s going to get groundballs, he’s going to start hitting and he’s going to get a rehab assignment. We’re not even there with him yet. I couldn’t give you a timetable, a target date. It’s a deep bone bruise. Hermida had it two years ago and it took about a month. This may take as long as that. When you are dealing with bones it’s hard to give you a time table with how long it’s going to be."
As for left-handed pitcher Renyel Pinto, who has been on the disabled list since May 23 with elbow inflammation, Gonzalez believes there's a good chance he'll pitch off the mound before the team's 11-game homestand ends June 11th. At that point, the Marlins will reevalaute him. Pinto began playing catch on Monday.
WEDNESDAY'S LINEUP: Just one change. Cody Ross, who hit a grand slam and a made a diving catch in Tuesday's win over the Brewers, will get the night off and will be replaced by Alejandro De Aza in center.
Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan LF, 2. Emilio Bonifacio 3B, 3. Hanley Ramirez SS, 4. Jorge Cantu 1B, 5. Jeremy Hermida RF, 6. Dan Uggla 2B, 7. John Baker C, 8. Alejandro De Aza CF, 9. Sean West P.