Forget hitting. Juan Encarnacion's left wrist was so sore a few days ago that handling cutlery was a challenge.

"It's a lot better," Encarnacion said yesterday. "I can eat with it now."

Slowly, the Marlins are getting healthier.

First baseman Carlos Delgado, who's been sidelined with a sore left elbow and hand, plans to swing a bat tomorrow and hopes to play Friday when he'll be eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. Catcher Paul Lo Duca, out since straining his right hamstring on Saturday, took batting practice. Encarnacion says he's day-to-day, and reliever Jim Mecir went on the DL on Monday with right shoulder tendinitis.

All this comes in the middle of a 20-day, 21-game stretch -- and with the Marlins only two games back in the wild-card race and 61/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

"You just do the best you can with what you've got," Manager Jack McKeon said.

* FARNSWORTH DROPS APPEAL: Bothered by a sore back, Braves reliever Kyle Farnsworth decided to serve a five-game suspension for his role in a brawl last month.

The right-hander received a six-game suspension after a benches-clearing melee involving the Tigers, his former team, and the Royals. Farnsworth, who will be eligible to return Sunday against Arizona, was acquired by Atlanta at the trading deadline.

* CARDS' RELIABLE ROTATION: In his major league debut, Anthony Reyes became just the sixth starting pitcher for the Cardinals this season. St. Louis had been the last remaining team in the majors to have used only its original five starters in the rotation since opening day.

-- From News Services

Marlins outfielder Juan Encarnacion's wrist is "a lot better. I can eat with it now." His playing status is day-to-day.