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Struggling Brantly demoted to minors

ATLANTA -- Catcher Rob Brantly, who had been struggling at the plate and behind it for the Marlins, was optioned Friday to Triple A New Orleans. The Marlins selected the contract of catcher Koyie Hill, a veteran of nine big-league seasons.

Brantly's demotion might not be permanent, as the Marlins will very likely call him back up after rosters expand on Sept. 1. But given how mightily he has struggled, it was a while in coming. Brantly, who was the Marlins' Opening Day catcher, saw his playing time diminish with the return of Jeff Mathis from the disabled list in May and his declining play offensively and defensively.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said that, even visibly, Brantly had lost confidence.

"It's been a thing I've been concerned about for a while," Redmond said. "Part of what concerned me was that he kind of maybe lost his personality a little bit. We saw a guy in spring training that was really confident, bouncing around, having fun, joking around. And then, over the last month, I think he really kind of lost that."

While Redmond said Brantly had improved on throwing and blocking pitches, he still needed work in other areas.

"There's still some game plan stuff, and things he needs to work on as far as day-to-day preparation, and calling pitches and working with pitchers, and carrying out a game plan," Redmond said. "Some of those are experience things. Some of them are focus things."

Brantly, a key piece in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade with Detroit last year, hit .225 with one home run overall this season -- but just .175 since July 1 and .091 since the All-Star break. He also had his share of issues on the receiving end behind the plate. Brantly was behind the plate last weekend when the Cleveland Indians stole six bases, equaling a Marlins franchise record for most stolen bases allowed in one game, though the blame didn't rest squarely on his shoulder.

The Marlins were counting on Brantly to handle the bulk of the catching chores this season, with Mathis providing veteran backup assistance. But their roles reversed, even though Mathis has struggled offensively, as well, hitting just .199.

Koyie is a career .210 hitter in his MLB career with the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Dodgers. He was hitting .237 this season at New Orleans.

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While rookie Christian Yelich hit his first major league home run in Pittsburgh on Thursday, he lost a base hit on his personal ledger overnight. That's because the league office took away one of his three hits when he made his major league debut in Colorado on July 26 and charged an error to Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. The league was asked to review the play after the Rockies questioned the scoring decision. Because of the scoring change, Mike Redmond remains the only Marlin to begin his MLB career with three hits in each of his first three at bats.

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