Justin Ruggiano is aiming to make his Grapefruit League debut Saturday, but he has plenty of work to do to convince the Marlins that he’s their starting center fielder. Chris Coghlan is also in the mix. "We’re going to run him out in center. We haven’t had anybody stand out yet, so there’s still an opportunity for somebody to take that job. Right now, he’s swinging the bat and doing everything he can possibly do."
It took almost a year, but Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi finally responded to a nagging request from veteran catcher John Buck. Eovaldi delivered his reply Sunday in the form of a rare, two-seam fastball, which tailed in toward Buck as he batted for the Mets. "I kind of looked at him and he kind of smiled back at me (from the mound), like, ‘Yeah, that was it,’ ’’ Buck recalled with a grin.
Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins’ marquee player, will make $537,000 in 2013, just $47,000 more than the Major League minimum salary. "We are hoping that that moment will come but Giancarlo needs to play this year,’’ owner Jeffrey Loria said. "He is here for certainly the foreseeable future and we will cross that bridge at the appropriate moment.’’
As a teenager in Colombia, Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano heard the same thing every time he showed up at a baseball field for a tryout. Solano thought he was too small, but is expected to open the year as the team's starting second baseman. "Everybody would say, ‘You’re too small,’ ’’ said Solano, who is 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, one of the smallest players in a sport that emphasizes size and strength. "They thought I might have a chance but not a real chance. But I didn’t care what they said.’’
Bud Selig is in no mood to talk about the Marlins. That became very apparent Friday night when the commissioner of Major League Baseball held an imprompto press conference in the back of the press box as Team USA was losing its World Baseball Classic opener to Mexico.
Pitcher Sam Dyson, claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays, has been almost perfect in spring training, and hopes to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. "He’s got good stuff," said Redmond, who saw the 24-year-old in the Blue Jays’ minor-league system. "He did a nice job making an adjustment with a runner on base in picking up his pace. It’s something we’ve been working on with him."
Healthy, and with an opportunity in front of him, Alex Sanabia is relishing every chance he gets to fight for a spot in the Marlins' 2013 rotation. "I definitely have been stoked about getting opportunities," Sanabia said. "Two starts this spring. Definitely take it into consideration and look forward to it. It's given me an opportunity to show something."
Justin Ruggiano's return to the lineup gives the Marlins a much-needed power threat. The 30-year-old strained his lower back early in Spring Training, and Saturday was his first Grapefruit League game. "I'm not even worrying about that," Ruggiano said. "I'm worried about me being at my best when Opening Day comes, and I'll let them make those decisions. I don't think anyone in here has solidified themselves enough from what they did last year. I don't think that is important."
Christian Yelich and Joe Mahoney each had two RBIs for Miami's split-squad, as Alex Sanabia -- battling for a spot in Miami's rotation -- gave up four runs in 2 2/3 innings in an 8-7 loss to the Nationals on Saturday.
Even in an unfamiliar role Saturday, Marlins top prospect Jose Fernandez was as sharp as ever. The powerful young right-hander cruised through two innings of work against the Nationals, recording two strikeouts and allowing just one single. All of Fernandez's 25 appearances last year were starts, but pitching the sixth and seventh innings of Miami's split-squad game in Viera didn't faze him much. "I was asking, 'When do I warm up? Can I warm up now? Can i get ready now?'" Fernandez said. "But it's not a big deal. Just another step of the way."
Jacob Turner threw three scoreless innings, while Donovan Solano added two hits to his hot spring, but the Marlins fell, 2-0, to the Cardinals on Saturday. "Obviously, I felt a lot better," Turner said. "I think it showed in just the command of the pitches and how sharp they were. It was a step in the right direction."
How To Ruin A Franchise, Step 41: Write a full-page letter in the newspapers blaming the media, attendance, general ignorance -- anyone but yourself! -- for your decaying franchise a year after a publicly-funded stadium was built.That's the only explanation, right? Sunday was some suicidal next-step from the how-to manual Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is following into baseball oblivion.
Around The League
It's still more than three weeks until Opening Day and that's a good thing for the Dodgers, as Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford will need it. Kemp went 0-for-3 with two more strikeouts Saturday and is now hitless in 11 at-bats with five strikeouts since left shoulder surgery.
Tim Lincecum comfortably threw 32 pitches Saturday in a simulated game as he passed the final test for resuming Cactus League activity.
The Classic is a showcase of Major League talent, national pride, high intensity from fans all over the globe and emotion on the field. The latter two parts of that equation took over the mood late in Canada's 10-3 win over Mexico on Saturday, when a bench-clearing brawl stained what has been a fun and wildly unpredictable tournament.
Mariano Rivera knew when he reported to Spring Training that this season would be his last in a Major League uniform, that he would announce his retirement in advance and spend the rest of the year appreciating, and celebrating, the last chapter of his storied career.
David Ortiz's right Achilles injury is not improving as quickly as was hoped, putting his Opening Day availability in jeopardy, so the Red Sox sent the slugger out for a precautionary MRI exam on Saturday.
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins failed to score again and were shut out by the St. Louis Cardinals just a day removed from a strong performance versus the New York Yankees. Starting pitcher Jacob Turner put up a strong effort in the loss.
The 2013 Fish Stripes Fantasy Baseball League, set up by Yahoo!, is ready for action, and the setup for the 12 players is here! If you're interested in building your own league, however, you can do so at Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball!
The Miami Marlins are looking to Placido Polanco to fill in their long-standing gap at third base, at least for the 2013 season. But Polanco's struggles offensively and with injuries likely mean Greg Dobbs will also play significant time.
The Miami Marlins are slowly advancing in spring training and onto the 2013 season, and it begins with the team naming Ricky Nolasco the official Opening Day starter and making 11 cuts from the major league camp.
The Miami Marlins won their other split-roster game, with top prospect Jose Fernandez putting up an impressive debut as part of an 8-7 victory over the Washington Nationals.