The Florida Marlins’ bullpen suddenly looks a lot different.
A day after picking up former closer Armando Benitez, the Marlins look to bounce back from their first loss in seven road games as they continue their four-game series with the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Friday at Miller Park.
The Marlins acquired Benitez on Thursday along with cash considerations from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for reliever Randy Messenger. Benitez saved a club-record 47 games for the Marlins in 2004, but was 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA for the Giants and has been the focus of intense criticism from San Francisco’s media and fans.
In his final game with the Giants on Tuesday, Benitez balked twice in the 12th inning and gave up a walk-off home run to Carlos Delgado in a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets. Still, the Marlins were pleased that he was returning to Florida.
“We love Armando,” Marlins assistant general manager Michael Hill said. “He did a great job for us in ’04 establishing a single-season save record and brings experience, and we’re happy to bring him back to the Marlins.”
The Marlins also activated former closer Henry Owens, who had been on the disabled list with right rotator cuff tendinitis on May 11. Since he went down, Kevin Gregg has converted each of his five save opportunities.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Gregg will remain the closer despite the additions to the bullpen.
“Kevin’s going to be the guy who is going to be closing for us,” Gonzalez said. “I think he deserves that opportunity.”
The Marlins (26-28) lost Thursday’s series opener 4-3, falling to 3-1 on their current 11-game, 10-day road trip. Florida, which swept a three-game set from the Chicago Cubs to open the trip, had not lost on the road since a May 17 defeat at Pittsburgh.
The Brewers (30-24), meanwhile, won for just the second time in nine games, but still own a 6 1/2-game lead in the Central. Prince Fielder homered for the fourth straight game and tied Alex Rodriguez for the major league lead with 19.
Fielder hit 13 home runs in May, setting a franchise record for homers in a single month.
“I just try to put the barrel on it. Everything after that is out of my control,” said Fielder, who has seven homers in his last 10 games. “I try to put the barrel on it and see what happens.”
The Brewers placed second baseman Rickie Weeks on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Wednesday because of a sore right wrist that continues to hamper him because of scar tissue breaking up. Weeks, who is hitting .243, is scheduled to fly to Phoenix on Friday to be checked out by Dr. Don Sheridan, who performed season-ending surgery on Weeks’ right wrist last year to fix a tendon that was snapping out of place.
“It’s a pretty good decision,” Weeks said. “In hindsight, I didn’t want to go do it, but it’s probably the best thing for me right now.”
Milwaukee will hand the ball to Jeff Suppan (6-5, 3.58 ERA) on Friday. Suppan was outpitched by Jake Peavy in his last start Sunday, allowing three runs in six innings of a 3-0 loss at San Diego, and is 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in his last four starts after winning his previous five.
He is 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 10 career starts against the Marlins and allowed five runs in six innings of a 5-3 loss in Miami on April 9.
Florida will counter with Scott Olsen (4-4, 5.11), who allowed five runs in five innings of Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the New York Mets. He has allowed at least three runs in all but two of his 11 starts and has lasted fewer than six innings in six outings.
Olsen is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers, and threw seven scoreless innings in his last start against them on Sept. 3, a 10-3 win at Miller Park.