Sunday, March 1, 2015

For different look, Aaron Altherr earns first major-league start

Outfielder Aaron Altherr made his first major-league start Thursday for "some new blood," as Ryne Sandberg put it.

For different look, Aaron Altherr earns first major-league start

Aaron Altherr. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Aaron Altherr. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Ryne Sandberg glanced at the scribbled blue lineup card sat on his desk inside Marlins Park. He examined the available bench options Wednesday night after a 5-0 loss. There were three rookies, an infielder who had not appeared in the majors since 2011, and an outfielder with a .490 OPS.

The manager was not blessed with a deep inventory.

"No," Sandberg said. "Not really."

His roster's depth is tested on a daily basis; there are weak spots in the punchless lineup with no capable replacements behind them. The manager admitted to missing Darin Ruf and Freddy Galvis, two young players with unwritten futures during this recent skid. They would offer "a little punch, a little youth," Sandberg said.

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For that reason, he installed Aaron Altherr in left field Thursday to make his first major-league start. Altherr, 23, was recalled Wednesday from double-A Reading for another short stint while Domonic Brown tended to family matters.

The German-born Altherr batted .323 with a .920 OPS in 93 June at bats with Reading. His power, sapped by a broken bone in his right wrist, has returned. Altherr is a natural center fielder.

"He's known for his defense at all three positions," Sandberg said. "Covers a lot of ground. Good defensive guy. Some new blood."

Ruf, sidelined by a broken wrist, is playing rehab games in Clearwater, Fla. He could return sometime after the All-Star break. Galvis, who broke his collarbone, has participated in infield drills and could soon play in games.

"Those guys are missed," Sandberg said. "Those options are missed."

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