Yelich to be handled carefully after pinch-hit

Yelich to be handled carefully after pinch-hit

WASHINGTON -- There is nothing wrong with Christian Yelich's swing, as evidenced by his pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth inning of the Marlins' 7-4 loss to the Nationals on Sunday at Nationals Park.

What's troubling the 23-year-old Miami outfielder is a lingering right knee bruise that is limiting his availability. Yelich's single to right off Jonathan Papelbon on Sunday was his first game action since Wednesday against Pittsburgh, as he's been dealing with a bruised knee since banging it against the outfield wall in Atlanta on Aug. 9. He went on the disabled list on Aug. 15, retroactive to Aug. 10, and he was reinstated on Tuesday.

For at least the rest of the road trip -- which continues on Monday at Atlanta -- it is doubtful Yelich will play in the outfield or run the bases. Still, he's making himself available to pinch-hit.

"Hitting is not really the problem," Yelich said. "Even jogging doesn't really bother it. It's just the impact."

After sitting out the first two games in Washington, Yelich tested the knee pregame Sunday and told manager Dan Jennings he was available on a limited basis.

"We knew we had that weapon over there," Jennings said. "He had a good at-bat off Papelbon."

After watching leads of 3-0 and 4-2 disappear, the Marlins made things interesting off the Nationals' closer. With one out, Adeiny Hechavarria doubled on a liner that right fielder Bryce Harper lost in the sun. With two outs, Yelich saw one pitch from Papelbon, and lined it to right.

Short on position players, Justin Nicolino, a pitcher, ran for Yelich.

"I'm basically just pinch-hitting for now," Yelich said. "I just tested it out to see how I was. I can hit. That's not really the problem. It's the impact and stuff like that."

By impact, Yelich means diving, sliding and going at full speed. How he will be used for now will be measured by how he feels that particular day.

"Play careful for a little while, and then go from there," Yelich said. "Kind of just test it each day, and see how it responds. And just not have it flare up again."

Yelich's single put runners on the corners and brought up Dee Gordon, who represented the tying run. But Gordon grounded out to end the game.

"We were trying to get into that position that we got to," Jennings said. "We just didn't get that hit there when we needed it to score those three to hopefully put us in position to tie."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.