Last season, it was third base, and for the Miami Marlins of 2014, second base has been the position of trouble. It isn't because the Marlins don't have enough depth, and it isn't because of offensive inconsistencies. Derek Dietrich was demoted last week for his defensive miscues, and after signing Rafael Furcal, who began the season on the disabled list, consistency has been hard to find.
For Miami, help may be on the way, although Furcal's versatility has been questioned as he has aged. Furcal is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and is expected to benefit from the move from shortstop to second base.
Following a rehab assignment with Double-A Jacksonville, Furcal may be promoted before this weekend's series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After a successful rehab assignment stint in recent days with Double-A Jacksonville, Rafael Furcal is returning to Class A Jupiter to play in a few more games.
The Marlins aren't saying exactly when Furcal is scheduled to come off the disabled list. Indications are it will be soon.
Furcal, who has been on the disabled list all season, played five straight games with Double-A Jacksonville, going 6-for-20 in the stretch.
Although Miami's offense is significantly improved from 2013, notably with runners in scoring position thanks to the success of Casey McGehee and Giancarlo Stanton, Furcal would provide the Marlins with an experienced leadoff man. The return of Furcal could lead to Christian Yelich moving to the two spot, where he is expected to hit as his career progresses.
Furcal's presence would not only give Miami more established protection for Stanton, but it would always add speed to the top of their order. He stole just 12 bags with the Cardinals in 2012 but has reportedly looked good on the basepaths during his rehab stints.
"I don't know when that day is coming, but it is probably coming soon," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "It was coming soon about a month ago, too, and it didn't. I think it's safe to say coming soon."
Furcal strained his left hamstring in Spring Training, which is why he was initially placed on the DL. But on rehab assignment in late April, he strained his right groin.
Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano have played second base in Dietrich's absence, and while Dietrich may be the better option because of age and productivity, his defense, in the eyes of the Marlins, needs to become more natural and consistent.
Since age was significant in this case, the Marlins handled the Furcal situation well. But should he come off the DL this weekend (or in the near future), Miami will receive some form of an upgrade without losing a player on their roster.