The Marlins made a few moves Thursday in their bullpen and one of them involved bringing a very happy Taylor Tankersley back up to the big leagues.
The 27-year old left-hander and former first round pick was once a valued reliever for the Marlins before his career took an unexpected turn for the worse in 2008. After after a rough spring training start in 2009, it was discovered that he had sustained a stress fracture in his pitching elbow.
On the mend ever since, Tankersley became one of two arms called up by the Marlins from Triple A New Orleans following a bullpen implosion against the Braves Wednesday night. He'll replace left-hander Renyel Pinto, who suffered a strained left hip according to the Marlins (and possibly a strained groin too) when he unleashed a wild pitch that bounced high off the backstop -- not long after his teammates combined to allow six runs in the seventh inning Wednesday.
Tankersley, who had two screws inserted into his elbow and missed all of the 2009 season, said his goal is to simply "get guys out."
"I'm just excited to be on this team as any team," Tankersley said. "I'm getting to throw a baseball. Honestly, I was very appreciative to have a New Orleans jersey on as opposed to a year ago when I went into work everyday and didn't get to put on a uniform, go in the clubhouse or play on a team. This is awesome."
Tankersley was 3-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 20 games for the Zephyrs with 17 strikeouts and six walks. When he was with the Marlins for 25 games two seasons ago, he 0-1 with a 8.15 ERA in 17 2/3 innings. His fastball, which once topped out a 94 miles per hour, is down to about "91, 92." But he said he can consistently throw "between 88 and 90."
"I thought he pitched very well in spring training," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "My comments to him and [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire's] comments to him when we sent him down was 'Now you got to make sure you're healthy. You have to hold up and get some inning down there.' He's done that. Hopefully, we see the Tank we saw a couple years ago."
> Pinto, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, said he was told to take five days off before he's reevaluated for what appears to be a little more than a left hip strain. He pointed to his hip and groin Thursday as places he felt pain. He also said he had trouble walking.
Pinto said he injured himself on the wild pitch that sailed over catcher Ronny Paulino's head and bounced high off the backstop. He remained in the game and threw two more pitches to complete the inning.
Although he's had to escape some dramatic outings, Pinto's numbers are not too bad. In 19 appearances, 15 2/3 innings he's allowed only four earned runs (2.30 ERA) while striking out 16 and walking eight. His WHIP (1.468) is actually better than right-hander Brian Sanches (1.588) and was fourth in the bullpen behind Leo Nunez (0.915), Clay Hensley (1.014) and Tim Wood (1.313).
"I'm disappointed because I felt like I was doing my job," Pinto said.
> Right-hander Jay Buente (pronounced BEN-TAY) won't be put in any tough situations -- at least early on. Gonzalez said the 26-year old former 14th round pick out of Purdue, who was supposed to arrive before first pitch Thursday from New Orleans to replace the struggling Burke Badenhop, would be used in "the middle innings."
"From what the reports say, he has a split finger and does a good job getting left-handed hitters out," Gonzalez said.
> As for Badenhop, Gonzalez said the Marlins couldn't afford to have him work out his issues in the big leagues.
After starting the season off great and working himself into the setup role, Badenhop started unraveling after his ERA dropped to 0.93 following an impressive outing in Philadelphia April 21st. He allowed an earned run in nine of his next 10 appearances -- including two hits and two earned runs while retiring just one batter in Wednesday's loss. He'll head to New Orleans with a 0-5 record and 6.43 ERA.
"Go down, get your stuff right, get your sinker working," Gonzalez said he told Badenhop. "We'll see Burke Badenhop before the year is over. I can almost guarantee you that."