MIAMI -- In search of right-handed bats in the outfield to face Braves lefty Mike Minor on Thursday, the Marlins started Justin Ruggiano in center field and utility man Donovan Solano in left.
Since switch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio (thumb) and right-hander Austin Kearns (hamstring) both landed on the disabled list last month, the Marlins have been trying to find right-handed replacements, particularly when the team faces left-handed pitchers, like it did Thursday against Minor.
As a result, left-handers Chris Coghlan and Bryan Petersen were out of the lineup. The move gave the Marlins six right-handed bats in the order, with one switch-hitter (Jose Reyes) and two lefties -- first baseman Logan Morrison and pitcher Mark Buehrle.
In six games with the Marlins, Ruggiano is 4-for-12 with a double and a home run, while Solano has five hits in 11 at-bats this season.
"[Ruggiano is] back in the lineup to see what he can do to help us, and we'll go from there," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Down there [in the bottom half of the order] we got a lot of guys that are struggling right now, and we need the help from them."
Thursday marked the second start in left for Solano, a career infielder, since the Marlins selected his contract on May 20. For Ruggiano, it was his first start in center since the team acquired him May 26, with his other two starts coming in left.
Ruggiano primarily played center field with Triple-A Oklahoma City before the Astros traded him to the Marlins, playing 21 games there this season while occasionally shifting to left and right field. While he said center is the easiest of the three positions in terms of reading the ball off the bat, Ruggiano has been watching how Petersen plays center at Marlins Park to help him get a feel for it.
"I'm not putting too much pressure on myself," Ruggiano said. "The way I see it, I'm playing with the house's money right now."
Kearns back from DL; Petersen, Jennings down
MIAMI -- Getting hit by a pitch on Wednesday night in a rehab-assignment game set back Austin Kearns' return to the Marlins by one day.
It didn't take any longer.
After losing, 8-2, to the Braves on Thursday night, Miami reinstated Kearns and optioned outfielder Bryan Petersen to Triple-A New Orleans.
The team also optioned lefty reliever Dan Jennings. The Marlins will make a corresponding move on Friday.
Kearns went on the disabled list on May 24, retroactive to May 23, with a strained right hamstring.
Playing for Class A Jupiter on Wednesday night, Kearns was struck on the left elbow by a pitch from Brevard County's Andy Moye.
Thursday was the first day the veteran was eligible to be activated. But because he was plunked on the elbow in his second plate appearance, he was evaluated.
"I think that's kind of what knocked it back a little bit," Kearns said. "We'll wait and see how that is."
Kearns didn't have an X-ray taken.
"I've been hit there many times, not on a rehab assignment, but it's all right," he said.
Kearns has been an important right-handed bat off the bench for the Marlins. He's hitting .375 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 22 games.
The hamstring is improving.
"It's better," he said. "I was moving around all right. We'll just go from here."
By sending down Petersen, who is hitting .212, the Marlins likely will go with Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano in center field until Emilio Bonifacio returns from the DL.
Jennings gave up a three-run homer to Atlanta's Michael Bourn in the ninth inning on Thursday. He has a 1.80 ERA in five innings this season.
Even though sending down Jennings gives the Marlins just one lefty in the bullpen in Randy Choate, the team is expected to recall righty Sandy Rosario, who has a 1.04 ERA in 25 appearances for New Orleans.
Interference call at second has Ozzie reflecting
MIAMI -- A controversial interference call on Wednesday night reminded Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen about how the game has changed since his playing days.
In the fourth inning on Wednesday, Atlanta's Jason Heyward bounced to second, and the Marlins were willing to concede the run for a double play. Omar Infante tossed to Jose Reyes for the force at second. Reyes' throw to first was accidentally swatted down by Freddie Freeman, who was struck on the left hand by the throw.
Because of interference on Freeman, a double play was ruled. Freeman was shaken up on the play, and he was replaced in the bottom half of the inning due to a bruised left index finger.
Since the ball was ruled dead on the interference, Dan Uggla had to return to third base. Uggla ended up scoring on a two-out RBI single by Randall Delgado.
"That's a double-play ball," Guillen said on Thursday. "I don't know who made the rules; it worked for us. That's really what the umpire thinks. [Freeman's] hand was up. That's what the umpire thinks. It worked for us."
Guillen, a shortstop in his playing days, said that during his time on the diamond, infielders protected themselves by throwing directly toward first base, even if it meant the ball was aimed at a baserunner's head. The tradeoff is, baserunners would do what they could to break up the double play.
"Right now, you've got a lot of protection from the umpires," Guillen said. "In my time, we made sure we hit that guy right in the head. That's our protection. If you hit the guy in the head, he was a tough man. If the guy spiked you, that's the way to play this game.
"Now if you get touched, they want to fight. Why'd you touch me? That's not good for baseball. You're hurting me. Before, when I was playing, they'd go after your little [rear end]. You better get out of the way. The only protection you had was to make sure you throw that ball right through his throat. That's the way to play the game. That's the way I grow up. Baseball has changed that way."
Guillen had the spike marks from Dave Winfield to prove it.
The Marlins manager added that he thought the umpires made the right call on the Freeman interference.
"I think [Reyes] did the right thing," Guillen said. "I'm sure he wasn't trying to hurt him. ... The game changes. But I think the umpire made a tremendous call. That is the rule."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.