Marlins hoping Scruggs provides pop at first

Marlins hoping Scruggs provides pop at first

PITTSBURGH -- From within, the Marlins are hopeful they can address a dip in production at first base. On Friday, the club announced it selected the contract of Xavier Scruggs from Triple-A New Orleans.

The move had been speculated for several days, and with the series opener at Pittsburgh on Friday, Scruggs was in the lineup at first base. He went 1-for-3 with a walk in Friday's 6-5 win over the Pirates.

"We've been talking about him for a little bit," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's a guy who has been swinging the bat well, a guy we liked in spring. He's obviously had a really good season in Triple-A. We're trying to catch lightning in a bottle, a little bit."

Scruggs was a non-roster invitee in Spring Training, and his power was noticeable. He just hadn't shown consistency. Formerly in the Cardinals' organization, he compiled a .246 average with seven RBIs in 26 Major League games from 2014-15. But at New Orleans, the 28-year-old belted 21 home runs with 50 RBIs. His slash line was .290/.408/.565.

The Marlins have been seeking some power from the position since Justin Bour went on the disabled list on July 6 with a right ankle sprain. 

Derek Dietrich and Chris Johnson had mostly platooned at first.

Dietrich had a strong first half, but he has slumped to .195 with three RBIs since the All-Star break. Johnson is at .221/.312/.397 with two homers and nine RBIs since the Midsummer Classic.

"I think the fact Xavier is here tells you that we feel like we're trying to find some offense there," Mattingly said. "Again, [Dietrich], obviously, really good the first half, but he's just had a tough second half. We'll try to give him some days and hope he bounces back and catches fire. We'll continue to do that. With Xavier, we're trying to find that combination that brings some offense."

Scruggs likely will get some steady work at first base, and he could also play left field. He doesn't have much experience this year in right field.

"It's an opportunity to come help this team any way possible, whatever I can do to help this team," Scruggs said.

The Marlins shook up the lineup on Friday, going with Robert Andino in left field, sliding Christian Yelich over to center, with Marcell Ozuna playing right.

The Marlins are exploring outside options, too, like Carlos Gomez, who will clear waivers on Saturday. Jeff Francoeur of the Braves is another possibility.

Yelich, normally in left, could shift to center on days Ichiro Suzuki is off, like Friday.

Now that Giancarlo Stanton is on the disabled list with a left groin strain, the regular outfield is Yelich in left, Ozuna in center and Ichiro in right.

"We've got to figure out a way to put some runs on the board, and X has been swinging the bat good," Mattingly said.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. 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.