For several seasons, it was Alfredo Amezenga who served as the Marlins' versatile bench player. Then it was Emilio Bonifacio.
Following the trade that sent Bonifacio to Toronto, journeyman Ed Lucas has been successful early in his rookie season after spending 10 years in the minor leagues before the Marlins decided to give him a chance.
"It was a pretty big surprise," said Lucas in an interview with the Miami Herald after learning he was getting called up, who was hitting .304 with five homers and 14 RBI for the Zephyrs. "I'd been doing OK. But it's been 10 years, and to finally get that call ... At some point, you kind of stopped expecting and kind of put it in the back of your mind, hoping it will come."
Lucas is the oldest non pitcher the Marlins have ever signed. He has been successful early, batting .313 while getting on base at a .382 clip.
Lucas told the Sun-Sentinel that he is "just trying to fit in and get past all of the major league firsts." He was able to do that last Saturday evening at AT&T Park, when he hit his first major league home run against the San Francisco Giants.
"I wasn't even thinking about it," Lucas said.
Lucas made an immediate impact when he was placed in Miami's lineup. After making his major league debut on May 30 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Lucas went 4 for 4 in just the third game of his major league career.
While this is the first year Lucas has played at the big league level, he said to the Sentinel that "some of the younger guys are coming to me for advice because of my experience." Although he enjoys assisting his teammates, Lucas said he has turned to veterans such as third baseman Placido Polanco and left fielder Juan Pierre when he feels he is struggling.
Timing is always a key factor, and Lucas could not have made his debut at a better time in the eyes of the Marlins. Polanco and first baseman Logan Morrison will require a handful of days off to prevent another injury, and Lucas' versatility makes putting him in the lineup a no brainer for Manager Mike Redmond.
"He's come to the big leagues," Redmond said. "He's gotten an opportunity and he has done a great job for us."
Because of Lucas' versatility, he has frequently found himself in the lineup. He can play all of the infield positions, and has hit well in the second spot in the order, one that has been hard to fill for the Marlins in recent years.
Lucas' ability to get on base has led to several more opportunities with runners in scoring position for Giancarlo Stanton.
"Any time he gets on base, it gives Stanton a chance to drive in more than one run. It kind of forces their hand to pitch to him a little bit more," Redmond said.
Though several players have been demoted since Lucas' arrival, he has made a strong case to remain with the team. Ten years of minor league experience can't hurt much, either.
"It's been an unbelievable ride thus far," Lucas said.