PORT ST. LUCIE -- Edward Mujica insists there is nothing wrong with him physically, even though he's given up five runs in his two outings since slipping and falling on his pitching elbow on Sunday. The Marlins were aware of the previously undisclosed accident when they optioned Burke Badenhop to the minors on Tuesday to resolve a bullpen issue in which they had more arms than openings, so obviously they don't feel there are any health issues with the right-hander.
But after watching Mujica surrender a pair of home runs during a four-run inning for the Mets on Wednesday in the final spring training game, the front office might be wondering about that decision.
Here's what happened Sunday:
Mujica was on the Viera trip and scheduled to pitch. But, before he could take the mound, his metal spikes gave way while walking on the hard tile floor in the trainer's room, and he fell. Hard. Mujica said the full weight of his body landed on his right elbow, and his head slammed against the floor, causing some pain near the back of the neck.
"It was very, very scary for me," Mujica said before Wednesday's meltdown. "I thought, 'What the (heck). The season is going to start in a week.'"
With limited personnel at his disposal (the Marlins sent few regulars to Viera and started minor leaguer Adalberto Mendez, who didn't make it through four innings), manager Edwin Rodriguez scrambled to piece together a bullpen to make it through nine. He used Brian Sanches for 2 1/3 innings and had minor-leaguer Dan Jennings pitch the final two.
"It was a mess that day," Rodriguez said.
But Mujica said Wednesday that the stinging in his elbow disappeared quickly. He said he felt some pain in the area behind his neck, but that, too, went away within a day or so. The Marlins waited until Tuesday to test him on the mound, and he gave up the go-ahead run in an eventual come-from-behind win over the Cardinals.
"That day (Sunday) I felt a little bit sore," Mujica said. "But the day after, I was fine."
Apparently, the Marlins were convinced that everything was fine with Mujica, as well, as they chose to send Badenhop to the minors rather than place Mujica on the disabled list to start the season.
I spoke briefly with Mujica after Wednesday's game, in which he gave up a solo home run to Joshua Satin and a three-run blow to Scott Hairston, and he said it was just one of those days, and that there is not a thing wrong with him physically.
The Marlins were saying all week that they would probably not decide the bullpen logjam -- trying to fit eight arms into seven slots -- until the end of the day Wednesday. On Tuesday, though, they pulled the trigger by sending Badenhop to the minors. He was one of three relievers, along with Mike Dunn and Ryan Webb, with minor-league options.
Badenhop made nine appearances this spring, allowing three earned runs over 12 2/3 inning for a 2.13 ERA. Mujica appeared in 10 games, allowing a dozen earned runs in 11 2/3 innings for a 9.26 ERA.