MIAMI --The sacrifices made by the armed forces hit close to home for Marlins closer Steve Cishek.
A childhood friend, Julia, is preparing for a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and Cishek's father-in-law works as a jet mechanic at Otis Air National Guard Base located near Falmouth, Mass.
"It kind of worries you, especially when, with Julia, I've known her all my life, and she's going out there and putting her life on the line," Cishek said. "But she's doing it for our freedom, and that's something we all appreciate."
Cishek and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn visited military service members at the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Miami on Tuesday.
"They're looking up to us, and we're really there looking up to them," Dunn said. "It was a lot of fun to talk to all those guys and just be able to spend some time with them."
Cishek and Dunn visited for an hour and gave away tickets to Tuesday night's game against the Brewers.
Dunn said a couple of the veterans he spoke with come to Marlins Park on select Mondays for "South Florida Heroes Mondays," which features complimentary tickets for active and retired military personnel, veterans, first responders and military citizens.
Others, Dunn said, plan on attending Marlins games once they have recovered from upcoming medical procedures.
But Dunn does not want to wait for the veterans to come see him at Marlins Park.
"I want to do it more than just once a year," Dunn said. "Kind of stop in now and then and say hi and talk to different people and maybe even see the same person again."
Major League Baseball is honoring those who have served by partnering with People Magazine in the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign.
Ninety finalists -- three for each of MLB's 30 clubs -- have been announced as candidates to be honored prior to this year's All-Star Game. Fans can vote for one winner to represent each team at Citi Field on July 16.
Voting runs through June 20.
The Marlins' three finalists are SFC John Kloiber of Crestview, Fla., Air Force Medical Tech Kristi Nascimbeni of Travis AFB in California and Benjamin Pilgrim, a Jacksonville, Fla. native and the Leading Chief Petty Officer of the Aircrew Shop aboard the USS Enterprise.
Coghlan sidelined indefinitely with back strain
MIAMI -- The results of Chris Coghlan's MRI on Monday showed that the outfielder is suffering from what the Marlins believe to be a lower back strain, sidelining him indefinitely.
Coghlan was originally placed on the 15-day disabled list with right calf nerve irritation on June 9 when Miami reinstated Logan Morrison from the 60-day DL.
"His pain was in his calf and his leg," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "With the MRI, it's his back. It wasn't his leg."
When asked if Coghlan's injury would keep him out beyond the All-Star break, Redmond was uncertain. The specific nature of Coghlan's injury remains uncertain.
It's hard to say until we really figure out what he's got going," Redmond said. "He might have to go off and do some more tests to exactly figure out what he's got going back there."
Miami loses one of its best bats in Coghlan, who was batting .343 (23-for-67) with four runs scored and nine RBIs in 73 plate appearances since earning a spot in the everyday lineup on May 18.
He had only 68 plate appearances in the Marlins' first 42 games.
"I feel terrible for him, because he was patient," Redmond said. "He didn't get a ton of chances early and made the most of his playing time. He's red hot. He was probably our best offensive player."
The hot streak was a welcomed resurgence for Coghlan, who had struggled since finishing 11th in the Majors with a .321 batting average in 2009 en route to being named the National League Rookie of the Year.
Coghlan batted just .238 from 2010-2012 and spent some time in the Minors, playing 84 games with Triple-A New Orleans last season.
"Everybody's frustrated, especially him -- with how far he's come and the kind of year he's putting together. But at the same time, too, hopefully we'll get him feeling good and get him back on the field and he can finish the season strong."
The recent returns of Giancarlo Stanton and Morrison help soften the blow of losing Coghlan, and the Marlins will press on in a season during which they have yet to play at full strength.
"It's been one thing after another this year," Redmond said. "We get a couple of guys back, and we lose a couple of guys."
Mathis excelling behind the plate
MIAMI -- A reunion with a former Minor League coordinator seems to have worked wonders for Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis.
After spending six seasons with the Angels and recording a caught-stealing rate of just 23 percent, that statistic jumped to 41 percent last year with the Blue Jays.
Mathis began to notice the difference while working with Don Wakamatsu, who was the bench coach for Toronto.
"It was fun getting back together and working with him again," Mathis said. "He worked with me letting the ball travel and get to me and [then] loading. It took a lot of stress off my arm, and made me feel a lot more accurate."
"I wasn't maximizing everything I could. At times I tried to do too much and throw every guy out, and in reality you can't. Sometimes the base is stolen off the pitcher. You just have to stay within yourself and try to make a good accurate throw."
That success has transferred over in Miami. Over 10 starts, the 30-year-old has thrown out 80 percent (8-of-10) of runners trying to steal. If he had enough appearances to qualify, he would lead all Major League catchers.
Rob Brantly and Miguel Olivo have caught another 16 runners -- on 47 chances -- for a 34 percent clip.
"I think everyone as a whole is throwing the ball really well," Mathis said. "That's a tribute to the pitchers, too. Giving us a chance, mixing up their looks."
Polanco has virus, back stiffness; expects to play Friday
MIAMI -- Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco expects a return to the lineup on Friday after exiting Monday's 6-1 loss to the Brewers in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Polanco, who was listed as day to day, is once again suffering from lower back stiffness. Miami has an off-day on Thursday.
"Since batting practice, it was just a little tight," Polanco said. "It kept getting worse during the game. Sometimes you swing and it gets loose, but this was getting worse."
The 37-year-old said he felt much better on Tuesday. It bothers him most when he puts his neck down, pulling on his lower back. Over the past eight days he has also been battling a virus.
Last season, Polanco played only 90 games with the Phillies. He was also briefly sidelined in early March during Spring Training.
On Monday, during the fifth inning, he nearly tumbled over the dugout railing going for a foul ball, but Ed Lucas and catchers Miguel Olivo and Rob Brantly ran over to keep him from falling. Polanco said that play didn't cause the discomfort.
Polanco is batting .227 with seven RBIs and 19 runs this season. The 16-year veteran has committed only one error in 53 games.
"The last week I've had that virus, and I have another day or two left," Polanco said. "There's nothing you can do. They gave me a Z-Pak and the Z-Pak didn't do anything, and all that is related. You lose fluid and the 20 innings the other day didn't help."
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.