Joey Wendle talks return to Tropicana Field as Marlins face Rays. Plus injury updates

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Joey Wendle didn’t make the trip last season when the Miami Marlins faced the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. He was at the tail end of an injured list stint due to a right hamstring strain, rehabbing in Jupiter when Miami played its two-game set against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field that May.

This year, Wendle’s second with the Marlins after four years with the Rays, Wendle is playing against his former team at his former home ballpark. He’s starting at shortstop and batting seventh for the Marlins on Tuesday in the first game of the quick series that wraps up on Wednesday.

“It’s a little strange,” Wendle said. “It’s not something that I’m used to, coming into the visiting clubhouse here. But I’ve been part of this team for almost two years now. I’m happy to be on this side.”

Wendle’s MLB career took off during his time with the Rays. In four seasons with Tampa Bay, he played 400 career games and posted a .247 batting average, .744 on-base-plus-slugging mark, 151 RBI and 191 runs scored. He played in the World Series with them during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and was named an All-Star for the first time in 2021 before being traded to the Marlins during the following offseason for outfielder prospect Kameron Misner.

In one-plus years with the Marlins, Wendle has morphed into a leader in the clubhouse. He is now the team’s primary shortstop and is hitting .265 with 13 doubles, two triples, one home run, 11 RBI and 24 runs scored in 65 games this season.

He is also the player who rallies the clubhouse following wins, starting their postgame speech celebrations.

Injury updates

Center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. is with the club in St. Petersburg. He hit in the batting cages and did defensive work on the field Tuesday.

Right-handed pitcher Max Meyer, recovering from Tommy John surgery, saw Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Monday after complaining about soreness in his right elbow. An MRI showed no structural damage. Meyer will return to Jupiter and resume his throwing progression once the soreness subsides.

Left-handed pitcher Andrew Nardi (triceps inflammation) is beginning a rehab assignment with Triple A Jacksonville.

Outfielder Avisail Garcia’s rehab assignment has been transferred from Double A Pensacola to Triple A Jacksonville.

A minor trade

The Marlins on Tuesday acquired 6-6 left-handed relief pitcher Jose Castillo from the San Diego Padres for cash considerations. The Padres designated Castillo for assignment on Thursday. Castillo will report to Triple A Jacksonville.

Castillo, 27, has made 40 career MLB appearances, 37 of which came in 2018 and one apiece in 2019, 2022 and 2023. He has dealt with an assortment of injuries since making his MLB debut, including issues with a tendon in his left middle finger and hand in 2019, back troubles in 2020 and Tommy John surgery in 2021.

“He’s got real stuff,” said Marlins manager Skip Schumaker, whose time with the San Diego Padres overlapped with Castillo. “The injury part of it has always been his problem and nothing that he can control with what’s happened lately. I mean, it’s [a] 95-96 [mph fastball] as good of secondary stuff as there is in the league with the changeup and power curveball. He’s a 10 out of 10 person, too. Really good, hard working kid. Hopefully we can keep him healthy. ... If he gets right, that’s a big arm to help us later in the year.”

Spring training schedule

MLB on Tuesday released the spring training schedules for the 2024 season. The Marlins will play 30 games over the Grapefruit League slate, which begins Feb. 24 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Miami will have three split-squad days when they play two games in one day: March 3 (in Jupiter against the Cardinals and in West Palm Beach against the Washington Nationals), March 10 (in Jupiter against the Cardinals and in West Palm Beach against the Houston Astros) and March 19 (in Jupiter against the Cardinals and in West Palm Beach against the Astros).

The Marlins’ lone trip outside of South Florida during spring training is a two-day stint on the west coast of the state against the New York Yankees in Tampa on Feb. 29 and against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater on March 1. Both teams will also make their way to Jupiter to face the Marlins, with Miami hosting the Yankees on March 4 and the Phillies on March 16.

Outside of those four games with the Yankees and Phillies, the rest of the Marlins’ spring training slate is against the five teams based in South Florida: The Cardinals in Jupiter, the Nationals and Astros in West Palm Beach and the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie.

Opening Day of the 2024 season is March 28 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at loanDepot park.