7/12/2013 6:58 P.M. ET
Marlins a different team since last meeting with Nats
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg saw several new faces in the opposing dugout as he prepared for his start at Marlins Park on Friday night. Miami has added five key bats and three new starting pitchers since playing Washington twice in April.
Logan Morrison, Marcell Ozuna, Derek Dietrich and Ed Lucas help anchor a Marlins lineup stronger than the one shut out by Strasburg in seven innings on Opening Day. Backup catcher Jeff Mathis has also delivered several clutch hits.
Nathan Eovaldi toed the rubber opposite Strasburg on Friday, and Henderson Alvarez will take on the Nationals in Sunday's series finale. Jacob Turner, who leads Miami with a 2.33 ERA, will get his first crack at Washington at a later date.
The Nationals took five of six from the Marlins in April, but taking down Miami this weekend will prove tougher.
The Marlins have been one of the best teams in the Majors since May 31, earning series wins against the Braves, Cardinals, Giants and Padres.
"We've got a lot of our guys back and healthy," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "We do have a different look, and obviously, we're playing much better than we were the first two months of the season, so it will be interesting."
Coghlan cleared to resume baseball activities
MIAMI -- Chris Coghlan has been cleared to resume baseball activities following a doctor's appointment on Thursday. He did some running on an anti-gravity treadmill on Friday, but there is no timetable for his return.
"Especially with his back, we've got to make sure we properly build him up," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "[We will] take our time and see how his back responds, see how he feels and progress accordingly."
Coghlan has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 9 with right calf nerve irritation. However, an MRI on June 10 revealed that he had suffered an apparent lower back strain.
The outfielder has been resting his back since seeing a back specialist in Dallas on June 17. He was told the injury would not require surgery.
Coghlan's current stint on the DL interrupted perhaps his best play since he was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 2009.
He earned an everyday spot in Miami's lineup on May 18 and never looked back, batting .343 (23-for-67) with nine RBIs in 73 plate appearances until he was sidelined with the injury following the Marlins' 2-1 win against the Mets on June 8.
Lucas holding his own at multiple positions
MIAMI -- Ed Lucas has been a revelation for the Marlins since making his Major League debut against the Rays on May 30, quickly earning a spot in the everyday lineup.
Usually batting second in front of slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Lucas has made a lot of noise with his bat. The 31-year-old rookie ranks second on the team with a .281 average and third with a .351 on-base percentage.
However, Lucas' impact extends beyond the batter's box.
In Miami's series loss to Atlanta this week, Lucas made several stellar plays at third base to keep the games close.
During Monday's 7-1 loss to the Braves, Lucas made a leaping grab on a B.J. Upton liner that seemed destined to sail over his head for a base hit.
He again robbed Upton during the third inning of Tuesday's 6-4 loss, diving to his left to snag another liner from Upton searching for outfield grass. With two outs and men on first and second, Lucas' play preserved a 3-3 tie.
Lucas decided to pick on another Brave for his third highlight-reel play of the series, barehanding a soft grounder on the infield grass to beat Dan Uggla by a step at first for the third out in the top of the fifth on Tuesday.
"B.J. scorched a couple of line drives right at me," Lucas said. "I know he's struggling. That's kind of the way it goes sometimes. I'm trying to help my guy, and he's trying to eke out his hits. Somebody's got to win."
Although he spends most of his time at third, Lucas has played five different positions for the Marlins. He has spent innings at first, second, third and shortstop since July 3. Lucas also saw time in left field during Miami's 20-inning win in New York on June 8. Despite moving all over the diamond, Lucas has made only two errors in 141 combined chances for a .986 fielding percentage.
But regardless of where Lucas plays on the diamond, he helps Miami win. The Marlins are 20-17 since bringing the Dartmouth grad up to the big leagues.
"Our pitchers are keeping us in the game," Lucas said. "We're doing everything behind them that we can to help them out."
Hot hitting has Hech's average looking a lot different
MIAMI -- In a Marlins lineup featuring the talents of Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison, nobody is swinging the bat better these days than shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. The shortstop has upped his average from .176 to .236 since June 3, and he took a 10-game hitting streak into Friday.
With a base hit in the series opener against the Nationals, Hechavarria would achieve a career-high 11-game hitting streak after tying his previous best of 10 with a 2-for-3 performance in Wednesday's 6-2 win against the Braves.
Hechavarria is batting .436 (17-for-39) during the streak, with three RBIs and three runs scored. He is batting .316 (37-for-117) since June 5, marking the third-best clip in the Majors by a shortstop during that span.
The way the 24-year-old is hitting now is far removed from the struggles that had his batting average below the Mendoza line from April 10-May 15, and again from May 26-June 8. He has been hitting .200 and above since June 15.
"We've all said that this is a kid who's going to hit," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I've said it all year that I marvel at how he cannot carry his offense out to play defense and how well he's handled that in times when he's struggled.
"We all knew that he was going to hit, and he's starting to show that. He works hard at his hitting with [hitting coach Tino Martinez], and his approach has gotten better. It's fun to see him go out there now and see some results."
Redmond praised Hechavarria for using the whole field as of late. The manager said that opposing pitchers try to force younger hitters to go to the opposite field by throwing outside, and he believes the shortstop has adjusted.
Hechavarria has sent 11 of his 17 hits during his current hitting streak to either center or right field.
"It's so important that he stays on pitches and drives his balls up the middle and the other way," Redmond said. "I think that's why he's had the success he has had over the last few weeks is because instead of just trying to pull balls, he's been able to stay on balls and hit balls hard up the middle."
Redmond hopes Hechavarria reaching base more often will provide a chance for the 24-year-old to showcase his speed. The shortstop has stolen only four bases this year.
"He's got speed," Redmond said. "And that'll show as he continues to improve offensively."
• The Marlins will place Chad Qualls on the paternity list following Friday night's game. Qualls and his wife are expecting a baby in the next few days. He will return to the team for Miami's first game after the All-Star break in Milwaukee on July 19.
• Injured first baseman Casey Kotchman played catch on the field Friday. Redmond said Kotchman is getting close to resuming baseball activities. Kotchman has been on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain since June 10.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.