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Captain Pratt is back

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Prado will play in a Marlins uniform for the first time since suffering a knee injury in July 2017.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We suspected that this could be a possibility earlier in the day. As first reported by SiriusXM’s Craig Mish, third baseman Martin Prado has been activated from the disabled list to make his 2018 Marlins debut on Friday night against the Rockies. Fresh off a 10-strikeout performance in Los Angeles, right-hander Trevor Richards was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in a corresponding move, the team announced.

Prado, 34, is seeking to rebound from a frustrating 2017 campaign. In between significant hamstring and knee injuries, he batted .250/.279/.357 (67 wRC+) in 37 games. For what it’s worth, “everything feels good” to him after a four-game rehab stint with High-A Jupiter (h/t Joe Frisaro, MLB.com).

Outside of unpopular left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (who is expected back on Saturday), nobody in the Marlins organization has a more onerous contract. Prado will earn $13.5 million this season and $15 million the following campaign under the terms of the extension he inked a year-and-a-half ago. There was no market for his services when the new administration put its veteran players on the trade block last offseason, but perhaps that would change if he recaptures his 2015-2016 form.

Prado spent every defensive inning of his rehab at third base, and he will be used there with the big league team, too. The Marlins would rather not move him around the diamond, leaving him susceptible to aggravating past injuries in unfamiliar situations. However, this plan displaces Brian Anderson.

The productive rookie still figures to see a heavy workload in a versatile role, starting games at the infield corners (when Prado and Justin Bour rest) and outfield corners. Despite practicing at those positions with the coaching staff, keep in mind that he has very minimal professional in-game experience away from the hot corner.

The decision to demote Richards means that the Fish will carry 13 position players. They had spent the vast majority of this young season relying on 12.

In the first MLB opportunity of his career, the right-hander performed approximately at replacement level (0.0 fWAR, 4.94 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 4.87 xFIP in 23.1 IP). But within that five-start sample, Richards demonstrated very encouraging upside. He was accelerated to the majors despite no Triple-A experience, thanks in large part to spring training success. Expect to see this likable underdog contribute more to the Marlins later this summer.

With veterans Chen and Dan Straily about to return to the rotation, the Marlins will soon be shifting another inexperienced starter to the bullpen or minor leagues. And as soon as it happens, you can find that update in our improved Fish Stripes roster tracker.