MIAMI — An MRI revealed that Marlins center fielder Starling Marte sustained a non-displaced fracture in his 12th rib (left side), the club announced on Monday afternoon. He will refrain from activity for five to seven days before being re-evaluated, which will better help determine a timeframe for his return. Miami will place Marte on the injured list prior to Tuesday’s game against the Orioles and make a corresponding roster move, a source told MLB.com.
Marte exited during his ninth-inning at-bat in Sunday afternoon’s 1-0 loss to the Giants at loanDepot park. He caught the attention of the dugout by grabbing his side, and was visited near the batter’s box by manager Don Mattingly and head athletic trainer Gene Basham following a take on a 71.5 mph curveball from Tyler Rogers.
“He was trying to convince us to let him hit,” Mattingly said after Sunday’s game. “I’ve had a couple of those myself. It never goes good. Once you feel that, you know what it is. It’s like, there’s no testing it. So that’s the one thing I wasn’t going to let him [do]: take another swing. He wanted to take another swing, he wanted a ‘let me hit’ type thing. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”
Postgame, Mattingly speculated that the discomfort could be in his oblique. In 2018, Marte landed on the injured list with a right oblique strain, missing 10 days. The following season, he returned to the IL with an abdominal wall contusion but came back when he was eligible to be activated. During his rookie season in 2012, Marte also strained his right oblique and missed 19 days.
The 32-year-old Marte is an important piece to Miami’s roster. He played in a MLB-high 61 games during 2020’s 60-game season as a Trade Deadline acquisition from the D-backs. He has gotten off to a fast start in 2021, slashing .316/.420/.491 with two homers — including Friday’s go-ahead shot — and a .912 OPS. Marte has started all 15 games in center field, recording two outs above average.
When a hit-by-pitch fractured the pinkie on Marte’s left hand in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series, Magneuris Sierra started in his place in Game 2 and knocked an RBI single. But in the NLDS against the Braves, the Marlins scored just five runs in a three-game sweep, getting shut out in the final two matchups. Marte’s presence toward the top of the lineup was gravely missed.
“I mean, he’s a big part of what we do,” Mattingly said. “He’s that guy, that cog in the offense, defense, on the bases. Obviously, you see what happened last year when he gets hurt. You don’t really replace that. We don’t have a replacement for that.”
Miami’s primary center-field options include Sierra and Lewis Brinson. Both made the Opening Day roster as reserve outfielders, but Brinson was optioned to the alternate training site last Sunday because Miami needed an extra arm in case of inclement weather in New York. The game against the Mets was suspended in the first inning, leaving the Marlins’ bench short with just four players last week. Brinson is the likely choice as the corresponding roster move. Corey Dickerson has played 27 games in center, but none since 2015. Adam Duvall appeared in center for one inning with the Braves last season.
“Really, really concerned,” Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas said after Sunday’s game. “But with that being said, I trust the talent that we have in this organization. If Marte is going to have to take some time off — we don’t know, hopefully not — but if he needs to go down and take some days off, I believe in the talent that we have in this organization. That’s what we build on, we’re building talent, and young prospects and players that they’re ready to step up.
“Last year’s mantra was, ‘Next man up’ and, ‘Why not us?’ I think the same thing will happen if something happens with Marte. But Donnie’s right, and everybody in this clubhouse feels the same way. I think that series against Atlanta last year, I still think and I still have it on my mind that it would’ve been different with Marte in our lineup.”