05/05/2013 2:23 PM ET
Valaika thriving in constantly changing role
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- As a utility player, your job description requires always being on call.
Chris Valaika is certainly learning that with the Marlins.
The 27-year-old, in his first season in the organization, is constantly adapting on the fly. On Saturday, for instance, he came to the ballpark figuring he would be starting at first base.
Those plans changed about an hour before the first pitch, once second baseman Donovan Solano was scratched due to a tight left oblique. So Valaika ended up playing second, while batting leadoff for the first time in his big league career.
He came through with a couple of standout defensive plays, and also belted a home run in the Marlins' 2-0 win over the Phillies.
"That's my job, to come in when things happen like that," Valaika said. "I'll play second, third, first, wherever I need to be. These guys play every day. If I can give them a breather, a day off, that makes me happy."
On Sunday, Valaika was back playing second base. He batted second behind Juan Pierre.
Pierre was off on Saturday, getting a day to rest against the left-handed Cole Hamels. On Sunday, Philadelphia started right-hander Roy Halladay, and Pierre was back in the top spot.
On Saturday night, Valaika consulted Pierre on what he should expect hitting first.
"When I found that out, I asked JP, 'What do I need to do up there?' He told me, 'Go up there and swing. You don't need to be somebody you're not,'" Valaika said. "That made me feel good knowing our leadoff guy said, 'Go get 'em.'"
Valaika's homer was the second of his career, with the other coming while he was with the Reds in 2010. In his third big league game, he went deep off Chicago's Tom Gorzelanny.
Skipworth returns; Kearns to bereavement list
PHILADELPHIA -- Kyle Skipworth is up for his second stint with the Marlins.
As expected, Miami placed outfielder Austin Kearns on the bereavement list Sunday for family-related reasons. By rule, he will miss between three and seven days.
Skipworth, already on the 40-man roster, was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.
Skipworth offers catching depth, which is needed because Rob Brantly is getting some time to rest a cut right index finger. Brantly sliced his finger a few days ago, and he sat out a couple of games, but played on Friday.
Miguel Olivo started on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Skipworth opened the season at New Orleans, but he was called up early in the season and made his big league debut on April 10. On April 16, he was optioned back to Triple-A.
The Marlins also are resting Donovan Solano, who tweaked his left oblique and was scratched from the lineup on Saturday night. Solano said he is still sore, but he was testing his side on Sunday. The Marlins are hopeful they can avoid a disabled list stint for Solano.
"I feel the same," Solano said on Sunday morning. "I feel a little bit of pain."
Solano was examined by a physician on Saturday, and the belief is the discomfort isn't serious. The Marlins are hopeful that Solano will miss just a couple of days. In case of an emergency, he could play the field on Sunday.
Brantly going through growing pains
PHILADELPHIA -- More than anyone in the Marlins' dugout, manager Mike Redmond understands the challenges Rob Brantly is going through.
A 13-year catcher in the big leagues, Redmond is seeing Brantly going through some ups and downs.
"There are some days where he's looked really good, and he's had a couple of rough days, too," Redmond said. "Days where his receiving is a little bit shaky, and he seems a little bit unsure, and we have to take a few extra trips to the mound.
"Believe me, I think about this all the time, being a catcher. He's 23 years old. There is a lot that goes into being an everyday catcher in the big leagues."
It's worth noting that Redmond made his MLB debut at age 27. Brantly, acquired from the Tigers last July, has a total of 50 big league games and 438 total innings of catching under his belt.
"He needs to take charge. That's hard for a kid who is 23 years old," Redmond said. "He's learning every night. We talk about a lot of these guys learning day to day."
Brantly is getting a couple of days to rest a cut on his right index finger. The incident occurred a few days ago, and Miguel Olivo started behind the plate on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
There are so many demands on catchers. They have to stay on top of the pitcher, call the game, understand opposing hitters, while also setting up their own team's defense. On top of that, they have to stay focused on their responsibilities behind the plate.
Brantly has three passed balls this year. He also has thrown out five runners who have attempted to steal off him.
Offensively, Brantly is a left-handed hitter with upside. He batted .290 in 100 at-bats a year ago.
Now playing regularly, he is scuffling a bit, batting .218 in 78 at-bats with seven doubles and nine RBIs.
"He's got a lot of responsibility," Redmond said. "There are some nights where he looks really comfortable back there and some nights there isn't. That's kind of where we're at."
• Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to resume his throwing program on Monday. The right-hander opened the season on the disabled list and recently had a setback. He is not expected to be ready any time soon.
• Nathan Eovaldi (right shoulder inflammation) is throwing off the mound. Because he is on the 60-day disabled list, he won't be ready until mid-June, at the earliest.
• Catcher Jeff Mathis (broken right collarbone) is getting a day off in his rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter. The veteran catcher started two games behind the plate before being used as a designated hitter.
• Nick Green, designated for assignment on Thursday, has cleared waivers, and the veteran infielder was outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans.
• Redmond celebrated his 42nd birthday on Sunday.