MIAMI -- With their playoff chances fading, the Marlins are looking for something to turn in their favor. They may be finding it on their long injury front.
Justin Bour is close to being reinstated from the disabled list, and there is more encouraging news with slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who may in the near future, be at least a pinch-hit possibility. Left-handers Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen also are making progress.
For more than a month, the Marlins have dug themselves into a hole in the standings, and perhaps their way back into the National League Wild Card race is to get back at least some of their depleted core.
Bour, who hasn't played since July 2 due to a right ankle sprain, is likely to be reinstated Tuesday, manager Don Mattingly said after Monday's 6-2 loss. Because rosters expand in September, he could be eased into action as a pinch-hitter or spot replacement at first base.
"He looks really good out there taking ground balls," Mattingly said Monday morning. "We're getting to a point where we feel like we can activate him -- at least be a guy off the bench, and possibly play. I think he feels good. It's a question of roster issues. So we'll see what happens."
Bour, who has 15 homers and 46 RBIs, would be a welcome addition to a lineup that has scuffled to score runs.
Stanton, who suffered a Grade 3 left groin strain on Aug. 13, also may be a possibility to be reinstated before the end of the month. The club has repeatedly said the three-time All-Star would miss, at minimum, six weeks. The best-case scenario appeared to be the final week of the season.
But there is a chance Stanton, who has 25 homers and 70 RBIs, could be an option off the bench to at least hit.
"Giancarlo is doing a lot of stuff," Mattingly said. "He feels pretty good. He thinks he can swing, too. It's just a matter of what he can do and how safely he can do it."
Asked if Stanton could pinch-hit sometime soon, Mattingly responded, "Yeah, it's coming up."
Conley, on the disabled list with left middle finger tendinitis, threw a bullpen session on Monday, and because he has to build back up, around Sept. 20 remains a target for his return.
"Conley has been throwing for about a week now, but threw his first 'pen [session] today," Mattingly said.
"At the end of the day, with the hand, there's so many small muscles in there and so much going on that definitively they couldn't say exactly what it was," said Conley. "But basically, long story short, there was some swelling in there -- some bleeding in my hand.
"Over the time that I took off and the time to kind of get the strength back, a lot of that blood and inflammation has been flushed out. So we're at the point where all that's low enough to where I can throw a 'pen."
Chen, on the disabled list since July 31 with a left elbow sprain, is scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Tuesday.
Marlins prospect Luis Castillo has been named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year. Ranked by MLBPipeline as Miami's No. 5 prospect, Castillo was 8-4 with 2.07 ERA for Class A Advanced Jupiter.
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.