John Baker landed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm, but 15 days might be optimistic for the slumping catcher. It could take longer for the injury to heal and the Marlins plan on giving the bulk of the playing time now to Ronny Paulino, with Brett Hayes as his backup.
"We're a team that's trying to make the playoffs, and you can't be running a guy out there at 50 percent, who's an out in the lineup, that's hurting his team," Baker said. "It's a fine line. You want to be a tough guy. But, at the same time, I've got 24 other people to think about."
Baker, who missed much of spring training with a similar injury, said it started to flare up on him again after the Colorado series in late April. Baker was hitting .342 as recently as April 21 but has gone into a 4-for-40 spiral that now has him hitting .218.
"I just know that lately, since Colorado, it's had an effect on me swinging the bat," Baker said. "So I think sometimes you subconsciously guard things when you don't want to hurt youself. I'm just not taking the same swings."
Baker said the good news is that a MRI "showed no ligament damage, which was what we were worried about."
Baker has been instructed not to use the arm at all for the time being.
"I think that we're going to look at it in 10 days and see how it feels," Baker said. "And, if it feels good, play some rehab games, get some at bats and get back in the lineup."
Asked if he thought he would be out longer than 15 days, Baker replied, 'I'm not a doctor. I don't know how it's going to respond."
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would give the bulk of the playing time to Paulino and spot start Hayes. Hayes was in the starting lineup on Saturday against Mets right-hander John Maine and probably will start the Tuesday day game against the Diamondbacks, Gonzalez said.
"That's one of the reasons we brought Hayes up (three days ago)," Gonzalez said. "We thought we could get (Baker) through this weekend without playing him, without DL-ing him. But the doc said he needs rest. I hope it's just 15 days."
Hayes will be making his first major league start tonight.
Mets: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Luis Castillo, 2b; 3. Angel Pagan, cf; 4. Jason Bay, lf; 5. David Wright, 3b; 6. Ike Davis, 1b; 7. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 8. Rod Barajas, c; 9. John Maine, p.
Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, rf; 7. Cameron Maybin, cf; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Nate Robertson, p.