5/3/2014 9:14 P.M. ET
Johnson coming through in a pinch
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- The benefits of experience are clearly showing in Miami's everyday lineup.
Free agent pickups Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee are making major contributions on a regular basis.
Miami also has received a boost off the bench from another veteran, Reed Johnson.
The 37-year-old is the oldest player on the club. He's also an established role player, and he once again made a big impact in Miami's 6-3 win over the Dodgers on Friday night.
Johnson slapped a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single that set up a four-run seventh inning.
The fact that Johnson's big pinch-hit came against the Dodgers has an interesting twist. While with the Dodgers in 2010, Johnson picked up some pointers from current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, then the team's hitting coach.
"He taught me what a pitch can and can't do," Johnson said.
Basically, Mattingly pointed out things such as a pitcher throwing a breaking ball to both sides of the plate, but throwing strikes to only one side.
"Knowing the pitchers and basically doing the homework is kind of what is going to settle you down and give you the best chance," Johnson said.
Johnson now paces the Majors with five hits as a pinch-hitter. His hit on Friday night gave Miami some breathing room. In his career, the veteran outfielder has 66 lifetime pinch-hits.
To keep him fresh, the Marlins gave Johnson a start in left field over Christian Yelich on Saturday with the Dodgers going to lefty Paul Maholm.
"When you're playing well, and you're feeling confident, I think anybody in that lineup, it doesn't matter who you put out there, feels like they have to do something to contribute in some way," manager Mike Redmond said. "I think we're seeing that."
Another setback for Furcal in recovery
MIAMI -- Another setback has taken place in Rafael Furcal's road to recovery.
The 36-year-old exited his rehab assignment in the fourth inning on Friday after aggravating his groin injury following his second at-bat.
For now, Furcal is day-to-day. He was starting his second rehab assignment stint on Friday with Double-A Jacksonville, and the plan was for him to play nine innings on Friday and Saturday for the Suns.
He exited after two at-bats.
"It's disappointing," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It seems like it's been a challenge for him to get his legs under him."
Furcal opened the season on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain. But a week ago, while playing in a rehab game with Jacksonville, the second baseman strained his right groin.
Last weekend, he was returned from his assignment on Friday only to experience more discomfort.
Furcal was signed to play second base, and provide veteran leadership. But he injured his hamstring in Spring Training, and he has yet to play in a big league game.
"I felt like we were getting close," Redmond said. "It's too bad. I'm sure he's really disappointed because I know in talking to him he was excited to come back and help us out. We've got to get him healthy."
Fernandez fine after collision in warmups
MIAMI -- Strange things happen during batting practice sometimes.
The Marlins went through that on Friday night in warmups before the series opener. But the team avoided a potentially perilous incident when ace Jose Fernandez collided with Ty Hill, the strength and conditioning coach.
Fernandez, scheduled to start on Sunday, is fine. But he initially mildly bruised his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
"It was a little accident with Ty," Fernandez said on Saturday. "I was running my sprints and he came back to get a ball, and kind of got in my way. We bumped into each other. No problem. We're both fine. It's no problem."
Pitchers routinely run pregame in the outfield. Fernandez was doing his sprints near the left-field wall at a time some of the workers at the Cleveland club (located on the other side of the wall) were throwing baseballs back onto the field.
Commonly, some of the workers at the Clevelander throw the home run baseballs from batting practice back onto the field to be collected. One of the tosses backed Hill up to where Fernandez was running.
"It was kind of a train wreck out there," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's fine. They both went down."
Redmond contemplating off-days during stretch
MIAMI -- A stretch of 20-straight games has Miami manager Mike Redmond calculating when to give his regulars a day off.
On Saturday night, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was given a breather. Jeff Mathis was behind the plate to catch Jacob Turner, who was reinstated from the disabled list to start the second of three games against the Dodgers.
Left fielder Christian Yelich also was given a day off, and Reed Johnson started in his place.
The Marlins are at the midway point of their nine-game homestand, and they will immediately head to the West Coast to play an 11-game road trip in consecutive days.
Redmond said he is considering giving Giancarlo Stanton a day off on Wednesday in the series finale with the Mets. The team also hopes to give center fielder Marcell Ozuna a breather soon.
"We're going to mix a few guys in," Redmond said. "When you are playing 20 straight days, you don't have the luxury of days off to keep guys fresh."
Saltalamacchia, 8-for-14 so far on the homestand with two homers, is scheduled to start on Sunday with Jose Fernandez pitching.
• Derek Dietrich wasn't in the lineup on Saturday, mainly because the Dodgers started lefty Paul Maholm. Jeff Baker made the start at second base. Dietrich was shaken up on Friday after being struck on the foot by a pitch. He walked it off, and stayed in the game.
• Lefty pitching prospect Justin Nicolino exited Saturday's start at Double-A Jacksonville after he was struck on the left forearm by a comeback liner. An X-ray came back negative, and Nicolino is listed as day-to-day with a bruised forearm.