PHILADELPHIA -- The tarp is on the field here at Citizens Bank Park and with rainy, overcast skies it looks like we could be headed toward a rain delay before the Marlins take on the Phillies and Roy Halladay.
LAMB GETS FIRST START: Left-handed hitting Mike Lamb will get the start at first base tonight in place of rookie Gaby Sanchez. Lamb is getting the start in part because he's faced the Cy Young award winner a little more than the rest of his teammates. Lamb is actually 2 for 11 against Halladay with three strikeouts, but has the second most at-bats against him of any Marlin. Jorge Cantu (2-for-13 vs. Halladay) has seen him more than anybody else in the Marlins clubhouse.
"It's not an easy bull when you talk about bull rides," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Lamb's assignment and first start of the season. "I got all the confidence he's going to give me good at-bats."
Gonzalez said he needs to do a better job getting his bench players at bats. But if you look at the stats, he's doing a pretty good job. Through 10 games, other than Ronny Paulino and John Baker who platoon at catcher (and not counting Brett Carroll who is playing for the injured Chris Coghlan), the Marlins bench has collectively had 16 at-bats. Wes Helms leads the way with nine, followed by Lamb (5) and Brian Barden (2). The trio has combined to go 7 for 16 (.363) in pinch hit situations. Both stats lead baseball.
"You can't ask your pinch hitters to go up there in the ninth inning and get an at-bat when they haven't gotten a start in two weeks," said Gonzalez, who hinted Helms would like get a start this weekend. "You have to use your bench, because if not, it's not going to be any good."
COGHLAN STILL OUT: As expected, Chris Coghlan (out since Wednesday with soreness on his left rib area) took batting practice early Friday. But he's still not in the lineup. Coghlan said his goal is to play Saturday.
"He's moving around a lot better," Gonzalez said. "I think he could pinch run. I think he could probably play defense. I'm going to say he's available to pinch hit if it doesn't stiffen up between now and the game. He's progressing well."
Coghlan said he still feels a sharp pinch in his back as he follows through on his swings. But his plan is to play with some discomfort.
"I'm not going to be 100 percent," Coghlan said. "I just need to be as close as I can be. There's probably going to be a day where I'm not going to feel it anymore. But I'm going to be sore. There's a difference between sore and stiff and feeling discomfort and injury discomfort. I know I'm going to be sore and stiff whenever I come back. I just have to make sure it's just that."
Coghlan injured himself making a diving catch against the Reds in an extra-inning loss Tuesday. He's is five for 38 (.132) at the plate through eight games and has just one hit in his last 19 at-bats.
VERAS CLEARS WAIVERS: The Marlins will get to hold onto relief pitcher Jose Veras after all. The 29-year old right-hander, designated for assignment Wednesday after four dismal relief appearances produced a 15.23 ERA, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple A New Orleans.
"I'm glad he cleared waivers and stayed in the organization," Gonzalez said. "Guys could go away and the next thing you know you have the [low Single A Greensboro] Grasshoppers up here pitching. He'll be back up here I'm sure, whether it's injury or [someone] not performing."
FRIDAY NIGHT LINEUP VS. PHILLIES: 1. Cameron Maybin, CF; 2. John Baker C; 3. Hanley Ramirez SS; 4. Jorge Cantu 3B; 5. Dan Uggla 2B; 6. Cody Ross RF; 7. Mike Lamb 1B; 8. Brett Carroll LF; 9. Anibal Sanchez P.