MIAMI -- Part of the appeal of Marcell Ozuna is you never know what you're getting every night at the ballpark.
The enigmatic 23-year-old endured a rough West Coast trip, going 5-for-28 (.179) with a home run and two RBIs.
Ozuna's struggles carried into the first game of the homestand, in Miami's loss to the Phillies, when he went hitless in three at-bats.
But just when it looks as if Ozuna needs a couple of days off, the center fielder catches fire. Heading into Friday night's series opener with the Brewers, Ozuna was 4-for-8 with a grand slam, two-run homer and run-scoring single.
"I think it's confidence for him," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "He's a young guy. There are adjustments to be made at different points of the season. There's going to be times where he's going to struggle. But then we've all seen his ability and what he's able to do. When he gets hot, he's as good as anybody."
The raw talent is obvious with Ozuna, who also has the strongest outfield arm in the organization.
Ozuna now has eight homers and 30 RBIs in his first 46 games. As a rookie in 2013, he appeared in 70 games and had three homers and 32 RBIs.
The batting averages are about the same. In '13, he hit .265, and this season he is at .261.
Ozuna's strikeouts, however, are up this year, as entering Friday he had 43 in 165 at-bats, compared with 57 in 275 as a rookie.
"I'm working hard every day," Ozuna said. "I watch video. In the Minor Leagues, I'd get in a slump and it was two months to get out of a slump. Now I feel like I get a slump and come back real quick."
Christian Yelich, like Ozuna, has had his ups and downs. The two spent substantial time together in the Minor Leagues. They won a championship together at Class A Greensboro, and they finished runners-up in the Florida State League at Class A Advanced Jupiter.
Now Yelich is in left field, and Ozuna is in center.
"He and I both have struggled this month, and we've spent a lot of time together in the cages," Yelich said. "This is my fourth year playing with him -- we know each other pretty well. I was like, 'Hey man, stick with it,' and he has. He's been trusting that he's a good player -- he'll be fine."
Throwing difficult for Baker a day after collision
MIAMI -- One of the strange plays for the Marlins in their 4-3 win over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon left utility infielder Jeff Baker with a bruised right shoulder.
Baker, who started at first base, was shaken up on what should have been a routine comeback grounder off the bat of Domonic Brown.
Miami starter Henderson Alvarez made a nice play in the top of the seventh inning on Brown's sharply hit grounder. The pitcher lowered to gather the ball, but for some reason, he held onto the ball for an extra few seconds before firing the ball with some extra zip to Baker.
The throw dragged Baker off the bag and into Brown's running lane. The two collided, and Baker, who ended up tagging Brown out, feels fortunate he did not sustain a separated shoulder.
In the bottom of the inning, Baker singled and scored on Marcell Ozuna's home run. However, Baker's shoulder bothered him, and he was replaced by Garrett Jones in the top of the ninth.
"We've got to do a better job of fielding the ball and getting rid of it," manager Mike Redmond said. "It should never come to that where it's that close a play or somebody should get hurt on a comebacker. Henderson, I'm sure, understands that. Hopefully, that won't happen again."
Baker on Friday did not do any throwing in warmups.
Baker insists he will be fine and available, if needed. But he will most likely get a day or two to rest.
"I told Redmond in the eighth, 'I'm not going to be able to throw,'" Baker said. "I couldn't get my arm up over my head. I ended up coming out."
On Friday, Baker did take some swings in batting practice.
"I'll try to get the swelling out and be good to go," Baker said. "It's not going to be an issue."
For Cishek, saves scarce as wins abundant
MIAMI -- Saves haven't told the whole story with Marlins closer Steve Cishek.
Because of how up and down the club has been, Cishek has had few save chances of late. When he is called upon, he is nine of 10 in save chances.
What Cishek has been finding are wins. Not that he would have preferred it to work out that way on Thursday afternoon. But when Miami let a three-run lead slip away in the eighth inning, Cishek pitched the ninth in a tie game. He got through the inning unmarked, and the Marlins beat the Phillies, 4-3, in walk-off fashion.
It moved Cishek's record to 4-1, with the win total tied for the second most among all relievers entering Friday's games; Jean Machi of the Giants was 5-0.
Miami manager Mike Redmond gives Cishek high praise in how he handles his role. The side-arm throwing right-hander, after all, is making a case to be an All-Star. His ERA is 1.96.
"He's very solid and as good as anybody, I think, in the game down there in closing games," Redmond said. "It's been a challenge for us to get him games to save. But at the same time, too, he's been in games where he's had some chances to pick up some wins.
"He's been great. He's been patient. I know he wants to pitch. We're trying to get him in there as much as we can. But you see how it goes. We might go a couple of games without using him, and then he kind of goes, four, five days in a row. It always equals out."
• Rafael Furcal will head to extended spring training on Monday, and the Marlins hope he will soon be back in game action. The 36-year-old second baseman has been on the disabled list all season with a left hamstring strain. However, during a rehab assignment stint at Double-A Jacksonville a few weeks ago, he strained his right groin. Most likely, Furcal is at least three weeks to a month from returning, barring any setbacks.
• Marlins top prospect Andrew Heaney made his Triple-A debut at New Orleans on Thursday night. Rated by MLB.com as the top lefty prospect in the game, Heaney gave up a run with seven strikeouts in five innings in a no-decision. In the fifth inning, Heaney was struck in the shin by a comeback grounder, which resulted in an infield hit. Heaney is said to be fine and on track for his next start.