Dunn optimistic DL stint will be short one

Dunn optimistic DL stint will be short one

MIAMI -- Best-case scenario, Marlins reliever Mike Dunn expects to miss the first eight games of the season before he's ready to be reinstated from the disabled list. The tentative target return date is April 15, when the Marlins are at home against the Braves.

Dunn is on the DL for the first time in his big league career. The left-handed setup reliever is dealing with a strain of his left forearm.

An MRI exam revealed no structural damage, and Dunn is hopeful he will miss just the first two home games against the Tigers, and the upcoming six-game road trip at the Nationals and the Mets.

Because Dunn's DL stint is retroactive to March 25, he is eligible to return as early as Saturday. But rather than rush anything, the veteran is not planning on making the road trip.

"I'm really shooting for whenever they get back from this road trip," Dunn said before Tuesday's opener. "While the team is away, I'm expecting to be back and ready to go once they come back."

Craig Breslow and Chris Narveson are Miami's available left-handed relievers.

Dunn aggravated his arm while practicing throwing a changeup late in Spring Training. Since he is adding the pitch to his fastball and slider, the lefty basically ended up using muscles in his arm that he hadn't normally used.

Dunn pitched in a March 24 Spring Training game against the Twins.

"I felt great going into that," Dunn said. "I felt great coming out of it, and then the next day when I went to do a stretch and I pulled back on my forearm, it was all locked up. So it was almost like it shocked the system."

On March 22, Dunn extensively threw the changeup during his backfield work. That day, he threw about 22 of them, including about 11 against hitters.

Dunn was initially scheduled to face the Yankees in Miami's final exhibition game this past Saturday at Marlins Park. But after experiencing discomfort last Thursday, he was shut down.

Holding off from throwing on Monday and Tuesday, Dunn said he currently is experiencing no discomfort.

"Monday and Tuesday are the first days I didn't feel anything at all," he said. "It was just a matter of getting it out of there so we don't have a setback again."

When the team is on the road, Dunn is hopeful to throw at least one rehab-assignment game, plus probably a simulated game.

Dunn has been a workhorse in a setup role, appearing in 72 games last year. He threw 4 2/3 innings in Grapefruit League games, and another two innings on the back fields.

"Hopefully two rehab games and I'll get back," Dunn said.

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.