PITTSBURGH -- A heavily used Marlins bullpen got back one of its most dependable relievers. All-Star A.J. Ramos was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday and threw a scoreless eighth inning in Miami's 3-2 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
Ramos had been out since Aug. 5 with a fracture to the third finger on his right hand. To clear roster space for Ramos, who has 32 saves in 34 chances, reliever Brian Ellington was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. With rosters expanding on Sept. 1, Ellington's tenure in the Minors is not expected to last very long.
Adding Ramos strengthens the depth of the bullpen, but at least for now, it doesn't appear the 29-year-old right-hander will be closing.
Fernando Rodney notched the save with a scoreless ninth, and Marlins manager Don Mattingly will let who closes play itself out.
"We'll just let it settle itself," Mattingly said. "A.J. and I have talked. We want to make sure we do what's best for the team. He's on board."
For the Marlins, Ramos' return solidifies the back end of the bullpen. He is having his finest big league season, appearing in 48 games while striking out 56 in 45 1/3 innings.
"The main thing, both of us, and the whole team, we're willing to do whatever it takes to win ballgames," Ramos said. "If we were in a different situation, maybe we'd be acting in a different way. Right now, it's about winning ballgames. That's most important, and that's what this whole team has bought into doing. Whatever roles we've got to take. My job is to get out there and get outs whenever I'm called on."
Rodney, also an All-Star this season, is a 39-year-old with 260 career saves, including seven with the Marlins since he was obtained in a trade with the Padres on June 30.
Rodney recorded saves in all three games at Pittsburgh, although he walked a fine line in Friday's 6-5 win, loading the bases with one out, only to induce the game-ending double play. In Saturday's 3-1 win, Rodney worked a clean ninth, striking out two before he let fly his famous imaginary arrow, which is his trademark move after each save.
Roles could change, but Ramos is versatile enough to throw one-plus innings, so Rodney may remain in the ninth.
"I know what my situation is," Rodney said. "Every inning they give me the ball, I'm going to be available to do my job. The bullpen is going to be deeper and better. [Ramos] can throw three days in a row. This guy has a good arm in the bullpen."
However the closer role turns out, with Ramos back, Miami's bullpen is stronger, because there are now two All-Stars to handle the eighth and ninth innings, regardless of who gets the save.
Kyle Barraclough, who has been pitching in the eighth inning in Ramos' absence, returns to the seventh inning.
Ellington, who likely will be back on Sept. 1, has thrown 19 2/3 innings and has an 0.92 ERA with 18 strikeouts.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com 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.