USA TODAY Sports
Heading into the final week of spring training, the Miami Marlins still have several questions at different positions that are preventing them from finalizing the roster. Plus links on Mike Redmond, Wade LeBlanc, and Donovan Solano.
If manager Mike Redmond had his way, Christian Yelich would open the season with the Miami Marlins' big league club and be the starting center fielder. Despite his impressive performance, the center field battle is still ongoing.
We are just 10 days away from Opening Day 2013 for the Miami Marlins. In the coming days, leading up to the Opener against the Washington Nationals. Here is a 25-man roster prediction.
After spending the 2012 season in the Kansas City Royals’ minor league system, Kevin Kouzmanoff is trying to open the season with Miami. The Marlins might be an ideal opportunity for him because of his ability to play the corner infield positions.
At the World Baseball Classic, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton said he paid close attention to how some of Team USA’s best hitters prepared for their at-bats. Stanton’s WBC study habits might come in handy this season because all signs point to him batting third for the Marlins when the season opens April 1. "I like him hitting there. We’ll kind of see how that goes,’’ manager Mike Redmond said before Sunday’s game. "Is he etched in stone in the three-hole? No, but right now I like him there. There’s still an opportunity for somebody to hit behind him. Right now we’re going to probably keep him there.’’
Nick Green has been in professional baseball since 1998. He has played for 22 teams in 12 organizations, and is hoping that he has a chance to make the Miami Marlins' 25-man roster. "It feels amazing," Green said Monday. "When I signed back here, I was very happy."
The Marlins might still be looking for a third baseman had Placido Polanco’s oblique injury occurred a month earlier. Polanco, 37, was ready to accept the end of his 15-year career had he felt any lingering pain or new aches while working out during the offseason. He has not played a full season since 2009 and was limited to 90 games in 2012 because of a weakened back. "I said if I don’t feel good during the offseason I don’t think I’m going to play again," Polanco said. "I want be able to contribute every day. There were a lot of days in the past year or two I haven’t been able to do that."
The Marlins released infielder Chone Figgins on Wednesday, narrowing the backup infield competition. Figgins hit .308 in 11 games but was unsteady in the field.
Christian Yelich never really has considered himself a power hitter. But so far this spring he's displayed the ability to take pitchers deep quite often. Monday afternoon, before rain came and stopped play after five innings, Yelich belted his fifth home run of the spring. "I didn't know there was a lake back there," said Yelich, who finished 2-for-3 Monday to raise his average to .381 with a team-leading 13 RBI. "I got it pretty good. It was a hanging slider and I caught it good."
The home stretch is at hand and Mike Redmond is feeling like things are close to coming together for his club. "We're going to start playing guys a little bit longer...we have a couple of guys who've been banged up that we need to get more at-bats for: Ruggiano, Dobbs, and Polanco," he said. "I still feel like we have time to get them in."
In assessing Adeiny Hechavarria, the Marlins are looking at the big picture instead of strictly Spring Training numbers. Hechavarria is making the adjustment to a new team and new league. "Everybody looks at the batting average or whatever," manager Mike Redmond said. "I look at the quality of the at-bats. He's put together some good at-bats and has some hard-hit balls. Obviously, you come into a new situation, and it's a little bit of trying to impress everybody. And he has with his glove."
With little fuss, Donovan Solano has quietly been one of the Marlins' most productive players in Spring Training. That's why when he isn't on the field, as he wasn't on Wednesday, it raises big questions in camp. Solano was scratched from the lineup due to a stiff lower back. "We've talked about the depth," Redmond said. "We need to keep all of these guys healthy. Hopefully, it's just a temporary thing."
After starting the spring with nine scoreless innings, Wade LeBlanc struggled on Wednesday, allowing six runs on seven hits in five innings against the Washington Nationals. "He's a guy who is not able to rely on his [velocity]," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's got to move the ball in and out, and he's got to change speeds. When he does that, and we've seen him do that, he's really good. And he's able to eat up some innings for us."
Who bats fourth is a question the Marlins had entering Spring Training, and no clear-cut choice has emerged with Opening Day at Washington approaching on April 1. "Ideally, you talk about your [Nos.] 3 and 4 hitters being your best two hitters in the lineup," manager Mike Redmond said. "I think, for us, it could be a situation where we have our best contact hitter there. A guy who puts the ball in play, who can move the ball around the field a little bit.
Around The League
While trade rumors continue to swirl regarding Rick Porcello, one particular suggestion caught a decent amount of attention on Thursday. It was a tweet from Jim Bowden, citing a Tigers source, that said the team had proposed two offers that were rejected by the Padres -- one for their closer, Huston Street, the other for reliever Luke Gregersen.
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez has a torn right thumb ligament that will require surgery, and he's expected to be out for two months. GM Ned Colletti said that he won't look for a replacement shortstop via trade.
Derek Jeter will not appear in another Grapefruit League game this spring, according to general manager Brian Cashman, because the Yankees want to be able to backdate his injury if the shortstop must begin the season on the disabled list.
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins traded many of their starting pitchers this offseason, leaving them with Ricky Nolasco as their de facto choice as Marlins ace. How will Nolasco perform in his final contract year with Miami?
There has been discussion about the Miami Marlins beginning Turner in the minor leagues, but the truth is that he may very well be the team's second-best starting pitcher.
The 2013 Miami Marlins should manage their left and center field positions on a platoon basis to start the year. This serves to make them better for the present and potentially better in the future.
The Miami Marlins are depending on Nathan Eovaldi to carry one of the Marlins' starting rotation spots and be a key contributor in 2013. Can Eovaldi get over his concerns versus lefties and achieve success?