The Miami Marlins were short-handed Thursday with outfielder Justin Ruggiano dealing with back spasms, outfielder Bryan Petersen unable to start due to a sore right shoulder, and infielder Donnie Murphy sidelined with flu-like symptoms.
Ruggiano has missed two consecutive games after feeling his back tighten up following Tuesday's rain delay.
"I felt it in the eighth inning, and I knew I had to hit in the ninth inning," Ruggiano said. "I wasn't looking forward to it."
He felt worse Wednesday morning and has not taken any swings or thrown since. Manager Ozzie Guillen said he didn't expect Ruggiano to be ready Friday.
"I'm going to be a little bit short on the bench for a few games," Guillen said Thursday before the Marlins' 6-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
That may mean using a pitcher as a pinch hitter, which would make Carlos Zambrano, a three-time Silver Slugger winner, happy. Zambrano is a .238 career hitter with 24 home runs and 74 RBI in 693 at-bats. This year he is hitting .176, which is better than two position players (John Buck and Gorkys Hernandez) in Thursday's lineup.
"Zambrano thinks he's a good hitter," Guillen said. "I told him, 'You were a good hitter, you ain't anymore.' He really believes he can still hit."
Petersen walked as a pinch hitter Thursday, but he said throwing would be tough. He was injured trying to make a diving catch in the second inning Wednesday. His left knee stuck in the ground and he whipped back his right arm, straining the shoulder's AC joint.
"I feel like I went seven seconds on a bull," he said, before adding, "It's not terrible."
Murphy was scratched from the lineup about an hour before the game. He was replaced by Greg Dobbs.