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Yelich scratched from lineup with tightness in back; Ichiro to start in his place

ATLANTA -- Christian Yelich made one of the best catches of the young season Monday night against the Braves. Now he's paying for it some with tightness in his back.

The Marlins scratched the Gold Glove-winning left fielder from the lineup Tuesday and will start 41-year-old veteran Ichiro Suzuki in his place.

Manager Mike Redmond said the Marlins don't have a timetable for Yelich's return. They just don't want to see him go on the disabled list so they'll try and be cautious.

With the Marlins scheduled to close the three-game series in Atlanta Wednesday afternoon, it's likely Yelich won't be back until Thursday at the earliest.

"I think it's something that has kind of been lingering for a day or so," Redmond said. "That play probably didn't help it."

In the second inning Monday night, Yelich chased down a Cameron Maybin line drive on the left field warning track, making a lunging, over the shoulder catch before tumbling to the ground.

"I think the important thing is to get him feeling good," Redmond said. "If it is a day or two or a DL stint, that's the important thing. Right now we're just treating it as a day-to-day thing. We'll evaluate him [Wednesday] and see how he is. I know he's been getting treatment on it all day, trying to get that thing feeling better."

Ichiro made his first start of the season Sunday in place of center fielder Marcell Ozuna, who showed up late for stretch and was scratched from the lineup.

"We weren't sure how it was going to happen, where we would get him into games," Redmond said of Ichiro. "As you see, there have been places where we can plug him in. What he brings to our ballclub is huge. Maybe Ichiro tonight is what we need to give us that lift, to give us that spark."


The Marlins had a new sign up greeting all visitors upon entry to the clubhouse Tuesday: "DON'T TOUCH BATS!"

Off to a 1-6 start and hitting just .211 with one home run as a team, somebody on the team took it upon themselves to grab roughly 30 to 40 bats and spread them across couches and the floor in the clubhouse. A source said the culprit was leadoff man Dee Gordon, one of the few players on the team off to a hot start.

"Someone just decided to wake all the bats up. Pick em up throw em around," Saltalamacchia said. "

"It’s kind of like a baseball thing if you have a bat in your hand and it drops out of your hand you say, ‘oh, that bat’s awake, let’s use it.’

"I've seen some guys take firecrackers and put it next to the bat to wake it up. Its part of the game, it’s all fun. It doesn’t do anything but some for some guys who are superstitious it might work. Sometimes it’s just something to loosen everybody up."

Redmond, who once took batting practice in the nude when he was a player to try and break the Marlins out of a funk, didn't mind the good-natured joke.

"I'm up for anything," Redmond said. "I'm hoping at this stage I don't have to take my clothes off again. I leave that up to the players now to figure out how to motivate each other. This is a great group of guys. We all know this hasn't started off as we planned.

"The same time, too, we have to turn the page and move on. These guys are in good spirits. I still think the key for us is just to relax. We still have some guys trying too hard, and maybe pressing a bit. It's human nature for guys to want to not only be successful, to help their team. But at the end of the day, the quicker we can relax and just get back to being ourselves and playing our game is when we're going to be able to turn this thing around.

"There's a lot that goes on in the clubhouse from 12 until game time. It's more about consistency. Showing up, being the same guy every day. You need guys to be able to make you laugh, and to have fun, despite where you're at.

"I'd love to say baseball is a game where everything is great all the time, but it isn't. Every team goes through winning streaks, where you're feeling good and high, and losing streaks where you can't seem to do anything right. It's always magnified more at the beginning of the season or the end of the season.

"If this was going through a month from now or two months from now it probably wouldn't be a big deal. Because it comes at the start of the season, it becomes a bigger deal.

"For me, my really only concern is our guys, and make sure they don't get overwhelmed or over-frustrated, and that they stay consistent, and try to get through this together. I think that's the most important thing."

Morse said when he was with the Giants during last year's World Series winning season the team went through a 22-30 stretch in June and July where they saw a 10-game lead in the division evaporate. 

"I'm the wrong guy to talk to about losing," Morse said. "Little things like this I think make our team stronger. The goal is to make the playoffs, not have the most wins in the regular season. At the end of the season there's always a good story about what happened during the season. Maybe this is part of our story."

> Redmond said pitcher David Phelps, who returned home to Pittsburgh to be with his wife who gave birth to a baby boy early Monday, will rejoin the team Thursday in New York. Phelps will start Friday in place of the injured Henderson Alvarez against the Mets. 

"He didn't get there in time. He was about a half hour late," Redmond said of Phelps flight home early Monday morning for the birth of his son Jack. "But everything is going well with the baby. [Phelps is] excited to make that start on Friday."