The Montreal Expos have been struggling offensively. But they might be getting a huge boost at the plate.
Guerrero, who has been on the disabled list since June 6 with a herniated disc in his lower back, has been playing well in his rehab stints and could be activated as early as Monday. The four-time All-Star was hitting .301 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 50 games before his injury.
“He’s a top-five player in this game right now,” said teammate Brad Wilkerson. “To have somebody like that come back in our lineup would boost it 110 percent.”
The Expos, who are 17-22 since Guerrero went on the DL, suffered a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, coming within one out of being shutout by 22-year-old right-hander Brett Myers. The Expos dropped three of four to the Phillies, managing only 10 runs in the series.
“You’re not going to win many games that way,” manager Frank Robinson said. “The starters did their jobs. We just couldn’t get it done offensively.”
Montreal has lost 10 of its last 13, falling six games behind the Phillies in the NL wild card race.
On Monday, Montreal will try a new fifth starter as Eric Knott will take the mound.
Knott, who has made two relief appearances this year, made his only previous career start on Oct. 7, 2001 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up eight unearned runs in 3 2-3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Marlins come in off Sunday’s 16-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs—their third setback in five games.
Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a double for Florida, which managed just eight runs in the three-game series.
All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell could return to the Marlins lineup Monday.
Lowell, who had surgery for testicular cancer in February 1999, missed the entire Cubs series to undergo tests on a nagging groin problem.
Lowell, tied for third in the majors with 28 home runs, is still waiting on the result of one final test.
“The news is very encouraging,” manager Jack McKeon said.
STANDINGS: Expos - 3rd place (tied), 15 1/2 GB, NL East. Marlins - 3rd place (tied), 15 1/2 GB, NL East.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Knott (0-0, 3.38 ERA). Knott’s only previous career appearance against the Marlins came on July 13, when he gave up an earned run and two hits over two innings of relief in the Expos’ 11-4 loss.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Josh Beckett (3-4, 3.86 ERA). On July 12, Beckett gave up one hit in a scoreless inning of relief during Florida’s 7-1 loss to the Expos. In his last start, he gave up season highs of six earned runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs. In six career appearances, including five starts, against the Expos, Beckett is 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Jose Vidro, .334 avg.; Orlando Cabrera, 13 HRs, 52 RBIs and 63 runs; Endy Chavez, 15 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .305 avg.; Mike Lowell, 28 HRs and 76 RBIs; Juan Pierre and Lowell, 62 runs; Pierre, 45 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 5-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - 2B Jose Vidro went 2-for-4 Sunday, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. … SS Cabrera went 1-for-4 Sunday and is now on a 15-game hitting streak. … RHP Zach Day (shoulder) and RHP Luis Ayala (shoulder) could also be activated from the disabled list this week. Marlins - RHP Brad Penny struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning Sunday. … 2B Castillo asked for a day off and was a late scratch Sunday. He said that he is ready to return to the lineup Monday. … RHP Beckett will be sporting a new uniform number on Monday. He switched from 61 to 21, in part because he is a fan of another pitcher who wears the number—Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 22-30 on the road; Marlins - 26-21 at home.
INJURIES: Expos - 3B Fernando Tatis (chest), 15-day DL; OF Guerrero (back), 15-day DL; RHP Ayala (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Day (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Dan Smith (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Scott Stewart (appendecitis), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 60-day DL. Marlins - RHP Kevin Olsen (concussion), 15-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL.