Mathis homers in rehab assignment

Marlins backstop collects three hits, plates six runs for Suns

Jeff Mathis set a Suns season high with six RBIs on Thursday. (Kevin Pataky/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | May 9, 2013 9:57 PM ET

Jeff Mathis' recovery might not have been as quick as he first anticipated, but he knows it's more important to be thorough than fast.

Mathis went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and six RBIs in the Double-A Jacksonville Suns' 10-3 win over the visiting Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Thursday.

"His timing is coming back coming off an injury, a long layoff," Suns manager Andy Barkett said.

"He got a big three-run homer and he got a big hit late in the game. He swung the bat well and got a nice RBI single up the middle. He's on the road back to Miami and this was another step. It was nice for him to have a big night tonight."

The veteran catcher fractured his right collarbone when he was hit by Matt Holliday's foul tip in Miami's Spring Training opener against St. Louis on Feb. 23.

At the time, the club expected his recovery to take four to six weeks. Saturday will mark 11 weeks since the injury occured.

On Thursday, Mathis pulled right-hander Daniel Renken's 1-0 pitch to left field in the first inning and he singled back up the middle to plate a fourth run in the third. In the eighth, he lined a bases-loaded double to left for a 9-2 lead.

Mathis, who never recorded six RBIs in the Majors, grounded out in the fourth and seventh.

The 30-year-old, selected 33rd overall by the Angels in the 2001 Draft, caught five innings against Pensacola on Tuesday and he stayed behind the plate all nine innings Thursday.

In 497 games over eight Major League seasons, Mathis -- who struck out three times and drew a walk in his first Southern League outing Tuesday -- is a career .198 hitter with 34 homers and 166 RBIs.

The Marlins acquired Mathis from the Blue Jays in November as a backup to Rob Brantly. He went 4-for-14 with two doubles, a walk, four RBIs and four strikeouts in four Florida State League games for Jupiter before moving up to Jacksonville this week.

On Thursday, Jacksonville starter Matt Neil (1-2) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out five batters over 5 1/3 innings.

"He battled. He was elevated at times and he got away with some pitches," Barkett said. "Overall it was a solid outing, but we'd like to get him a little bit more down in the zone. He pitched in and out of trouble and ran out of gas in the sixth, but he gave us five innings and pitched with the lead OK and got a 'W.'"

Left fielder Christian Yelich doubled and walked to extend his hitting streak to 15 games in the win, and he also teamed up with Mathis to throw Joe Mather out at the plate in the sixth.

"He can go get it out there," Barkett said of Miami's No. 2 prospect. "Him and [Jake] Marisnick switching between center and left. He's got arm strength and got rid of that ball quickly. He threw a strike to the plate and Mathis [put on] a nice tag."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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