MLB Team Report - Miami Marlins - INSIDE PITCH

MIAMI -- Utility infielder Ed Lucas rejoined the Miami Marlins on Wednesday and found a totally new spirit in the clubhouse.

When he was sent down to Triple-A New Orleans on July 17, the Marlins had lost six games in a row. When he returned, he found a team that had won six in a row and nine of 10 before a loss to Washington on Wednesday.

"I'm thinking, 'Man, I must be a pretty bad teammate if as soon as I leave they rattle off nine of 10," Lucas said. "It kind of makes you question yourself a little bit."

While at Triple-A for nine games, Lucas made starts at second base, shortstop, third base and right field. That type of versatility underscores his value to the Marlins, who have used him at every position except pitcher, catcher and center field since he made his major-league debut last year.

Lucas, 32, spent the first nine-plus seasons of his pro career in the minors. Given that, a mere nine games in the minors this time around wasn't going to deter him.

Still, bringing Lucas back up doesn't fill the Marlins' major needs. Before Thursday's non-waiver trading deadline passes, they are trying to deal for a starting pitcher. An upgrade at second base would be the next priority.

The Marlins would prefer to acquire players who are under contract at least through 2015, and they want to use minor-league prospects as bait.

As for Lucas, he is just hoping his presence doesn't send the team into another funk. And Wednesday's 4-3 loss in his first game back was not a particularly good omen.


MLB Team Report - Miami Marlins - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 53-54

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Reds (RHP Johnny Cueto, 11-6, 2.08 ERA) at Marlins (RHP Tom Koehler, 7-7, 3.91 ERA)


--LHP Brad Hand (2-3) took a tough-luck loss to the Nationals on Wednesday. He went seven-plus innings, allowing five hits, two walks and three runs. He twice retired nine consecutive batters. Hand, who started the month with a 6.21 ERA, was brilliant in July, going 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts. He has made three straight quality starts, a career-best stretch.

--INF Ed Lucas, 32, was promoted from Triple-A New Orleans before Wednesday's game. Lucas, who spent the first nine-plus seasons of his pro career in the minors, played 51 games with the Marlins this year before being sent back down on July 19. He hit just .200 in the minors, but the Marlins know they can rely on Lucas' experience and professionalism. Since breaking into the big leagues last year, Lucas has played every position except pitcher, catcher and center field, posting a batting average of .251, with five homers.

--SS Adeiny Hechavarria, who had two hits against the Nationals on Wednesday, including a run-scoring double in the ninth, continues to improve at the plate. He hit .240 with a .277 on-base percentage in his first 91 games last season, his first full year in the big leagues. This year, he is hitting .274 with a .303 on-base percentage. He also has 28 multi-hit games, which ranks third among NL shortstops. That marks significant offensive improvement for Hechavarria, 25, who is more known for his flashy defense.

--RHP Tom Koehler will make his first career start against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. He has a 0.00 ERA against them in two relief appearances, spanning 3 1/3 innings. This season, Koehler has seven wins, which is two more than he had all of 2013 in his first full year in the majors. His ERA of 3.91 is also an improvement on his 4.41 mark of last season.