Nearly two months into the season, the Miami Marlins continue to be plagued by injuries.
And the latest one — star center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr., who was placed on the injured list on May 16 — has left first-year manager Skip Schumaker with multiple adjustments to the lineup on multiple days. And multiple new names in center field.
Chisholm left Miami’s 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on May 13 after running into the center field wall while trying to catch a deep line drive from Reds outfielder Henry Ramos. He remained at the warning track after clashing with the fence before standing up and limping off the field.
He was diagnosed with a right turf toe injury after further evaluation, forcing the Marlins to make the transaction official. He is expected to miss more than a month although the IL designation is for less than two weeks. Chisholm is one of 10 Marlins on the IL.
“Definitely a tough loss,” Schumaker said last week. “Looking forward to him getting healthy and back.”
Chisholm’s injury was not the only bit of bad news in Cincinnati. That 6-5 loss to the Reds on the day he was injured ended Miami’s record of one-run consecutive victories this season at 12.
But the prime focus that day was clearly on the Marlins’ electrifying star and an alarming trend of injuries in his career. Last year, while playing the infield for the Marlins, he made the National League All-Star team as a second baseman but did not attend due to a back injury.
The cover athlete for the MLB The Show! 2023 video game, Chisholm, 25, was also set to play for Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic in March, before withdrawing to avoid injury and prepare for his transition to the outfield.
Having played second base for the Marlins for three seasons, it’s been a headline-making transition to the outfield for Chisholm in Schumaker’s strategy. There have been ups and downs, but Chisholm’s athleticism and flair for the dramatic suits the position.
“I don’t think a lot of people were expecting this from Jazz, in center field,” Schumaker said at the end of April, a month into the switch. “I read all kinds of stuff, guys through the media that were not thinking that this was going to work. If you watch Jazz play center field, he’s one of the best in today’s game. He’s done an excellent job at working hard to get it right because he cares.”
An igniter on the base paths, and a key contributor to the Marlins’ offense amid the new world of MLB’s rules, Chisholm has 14 stolen bases this season to go along with seven home runs, key statistics on a team that often struggles to score runs.
With Chisholm out of the lineup, the Marlins have shuffled players around the outfield, and even moved others out there from the infield, as they try to fill his shoes.
Garrett Hampson, 28, normally a reserve shortstop, started the first two games after the Chisholm injury designation, both wins over the Washington Nationals. Not known for his offense, however, Hampson went a combined 1-8 at the plate in those victories.
A day later, the Marlins recalled rookie infielder Xavier Edwards, 23, from Triple-A Jacksonville to play center. In his first game after the call-up, Edwards went 2-3 with an RBI single and a double, as well as a stolen base in a 5-3 victory. Hampson would later replace Edwards in the top of the eighth inning for defensive purposes.
“If we play together like we’re playing right now, I think we’ll be fine,” Marlins infielder and leading hitter Luis Arraez said last week.
In the ensuing series against the San Francisco Giants last weekend, when the Marlins lost two of three games, Hampson, Edwards and Peyton Burdick, 26, all played in center field. Combined, they went 3-16.
So, it’s clear Schumacher will use a mixed bag of inexperience in the most important position in the outfield. But the Marlins continue to hang in the postseason race regardless, ending the weekend at 24-23 and in third place in the National League East.
“We have plenty (of players) to win, and especially the guys on the mound,” Schumaker said last week. “But guys have to step up. That’s just the reality of it. Guys are not having the best month maybe that they wanted to have. It’s time to turn the corner and step up right now.”