Joe Nelson is turning heads

Joe Nelson continues to make a favorable impression on the front office.

Right-hander Joe Nelson, who has had only one season in the majors in which he pitched more than three innings, is enjoying a productive spring with four saves. But two months ago, he wasn't sure he would be able to play this season.

While rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder in Arizona last fall, Nelson, 33, contracted Valley Fever, a lung fungus associated with desert climates. Nelson, then with the Kansas City Royals organization, dropped from 220 pounds to 190 in about three weeks.

After signing with Florida in December, Nelson arrived Jan. 8 in Jupiter and sought help from Marlins strength and conditioning director Paul Fournier.

"I said, 'I'm behind the 8-ball. I need to get up to 205,''" said Nelson, who is 6-feet-1. "It took me 75 days of eating as much as I could. ... I'd like to put on another 10 to 15 pounds because my ideal throwing weight is between 215 and 220. That's where I've had success with my velocity."

In the year he pitched over three innings in majors, he threw 44.2 innings for Kansas City in relief.  So it's not like he hasn't had some action a big league level.

Nelson will probably start the season in Albuquerque and will be the first pitcher called upon if the Marlins find themselves needing short late inning relief later in the season.  Of course, that is assuming he continues to shine in desert mountains.

Joe Nelson's career stats.

Joe Nelson's 2008 spring training stats.

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