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Several spring training invitees will have the opportunity to make the team out of camp because of injuries and the young talent Miami acquired in early November. Plus links on Jacob Turner, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and catcher Rob Brantly.
PHOENIX -- Leave it to R.A. Dickey, who is about as articulate as they come in the big league playing ranks, to come up with perhaps the most colorful description of Giancarlo Stanton I've heard to date. When asked what it's like pitching against Stanton, Dickey replied: Dickey replied: "I feel like Jack around him, (as in), Jack and the Beanstalk. He takes up the whole box visually when I've faced him, and I've faced him a number of times."
SAN JUAN -- It feels like former Marlins reunion night here at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. And in a lot of ways it has been. With the Dominican Republic set to take on Venezuela in the first game of Pool C play tonight in the World Baseball Classic, a number of former Marlins had the opportunity to reunite and share a few laughs during batting practice -- including three-fourths of the Marlins 2012 starting infield. "I thought you said the Marlins would never trade you?" shouted Hanley Ramirez to Jose Reyes with Omar Infante laughing by his side. "Didn't you say you wouldn't be the one to go?"
Third baseman Placido Polanco downplayed the mild back spasm that kept him out of Sunday’s game. "Obviously, he’s a guy who has been banged up a little bit in the past,’’ manager Mike Redmond said before Miami’s 6-4 victory over the New York Mets. "We need him to be healthy for us during the course of the season."
A 22-year-old minor league baseball player with the Miami Marlins’ organization was arrested over the weekend after he told Riviera Beach Police that he slapped his girlfriend across her face after finding out that she cheated on him, according to a police probable cause affidavit. He said he "wasn’t thinking clearly" and was "very upset" after confirming that she was cheating on him.
For Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner, any progress is good, even if it comes against a group of New York Mets minor leaguers on a back field in the Roger Dean Stadium complex. Turner started the Marlins’ ‘B’ game Tuesday and tossed two scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out one, throwing 23 pitches, 13 for strikes. "I felt more comfortable this time out," Turner said. "I felt like there were a couple of times it maybe got a little out of sync timing wise. Other than that, I threw a lot of good quality pitches I wanted to throw."
Miguel Cabrera had plenty of practice clearing the left-field wall at Roger Dean Stadium during his five years with the Marlins. Cabrera drove in four runs with two doubles and a mammoth home run that disappeared into the night as it sailed past the Marlins’ offices beyond the left-field wall for Team Venezuela. Cabrera drove in four runs with two doubles and a mammoth home run that disappeared into the night as it sailed past the Marlins’ offices beyond the left-field wall. "He’s the best player in baseball right now," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo said. "This guy is a great hitter. He wants to be here, and he wants to show everybody that Venezuela is ready to win the WBC."
Roger Dean Stadium will host its two busiest days of the year starting Thursday when the New York Yankees arrive for the first time since 2006 to play back-to-back games. "Yankees fans in New York will come down in March, so it’s not necessarily people from Florida but a lot of New Yorkers coming down to get a chance to get close to the players in this atmosphere," Tino Martinez said. "They love that.’’
Marlins catcher Rob Brantly nods his head back and forth while stepping side to side, keeping precise beat to the hip-hop song "I Cry" by Flo Rida. As the Marlins take turns hitting Wednesday, the music over the public-address system switches from Bob Seger’s "Old Time Rock and Roll’’ to Kid Rock’s "Boom" to the Neon Trees’ "Everybody Talks.’’ Most of his teammates seem to ignore it, but Brantly doesn’t miss a beat. It’s part of a mental drill he began when he was a prospect with Detroit.
As long as Donovan Solano can remember, people have tried to sell him short. It's nothing new for the Marlins second baseman. Dispelling beliefs has been a challenge, but the 25-year-old Colombian native has been doing it ever since he joined the Marlins a year ago. "I believe you are given talent, and there is no limit," Solano said.
Playing in some games is the first step for Justin Ruggiano. From there, performance will determine if he wins the Marlins' center field job. The first step is expected to be taken on Saturday. "We'll try to get him in there for a couple of at-bats," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's going to do everything -- full BP, and run around in the outfield a little bit. We'll get him out there. Get him moving around a little bit. He says he is ready. He is excited to go."
The Marlins have health issues at first and third base, and Kevin Kouzmanoff has experience at both positions. Miami is also looking for a right-handed bat off the bench. Again, Kouzmanoff fits the profile. What the next few weeks will determine is if Kouzmanoff ultimately is a fit to make the team. "We've got some bench spots open, and we're looking at a lot of different guys and trying to get as many guys as many ABs as we possibly can," manager Mike Redmond said. "[Kouzmanoff's] definitely a guy who has versatility. And being a right-handed bat off the bench, that's what is intriguing to me."
Ricky Nolasco struck out six in 3 2/3 innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits in the Marlins' 4-1 loss to the Mets on Thursday at Tradition Field. The Marlins got on the board on J.T. Realmuto's solo homer off Greg Burke with two outs in the ninth.
Around The League
It appears that one of the great careers in baseball history will be ending this year. Mariano Rivera is expected to announce on Saturday that he intends to retire following the 2013 season.
Well aware that this was always a plausible outcome, the Cardinals are now stung with the reality that they will get no help from shortstop Rafael Furcal this season, as he will undergo Tommy John surgery in the coming weeks.
Dodgers starter Josh Beckett took his work to the Minor League complex Thursday, pitching four scoreless innings of an intrasquad game. In other pitching news, Zack Greinke returned to workouts after missing his start Wednesday with the flu. Manager Don Mattingly said Greinke will completely skip a turn and start again on Monday.
At Fish Bites
The Miami Marlins have revamped their catcher position since the start of last season and now boast an intriguing prospect in Rob Brantly. Can the team provide backup for the young starter in the form of veteran backstop Jeff Mathis?
The Miami Marlins finally made the right move to shift Logan Morrison back to his original position of first base, but will it pay dividends for the team, or will Morrison struggle to even stay on the field?
The Miami Marlins are facing the possibility of not starting the regular season with first baseman Logan Morrison. The good news is that Joe Mahoney and Casey Kotchman have gotten off to terrific spring training starts and may step in at first base.
The Miami Marlins are entering the 2013 season with a second-year player manning second base. The diminutive Donovan Solano found his way atop the depth charts, but the Fish are not likely to be as happy with his play as they were last year.
The Miami Marlins have a few interesting position battles heading into 2013, so let us look into those conflicts for the last few spots at fifth starting pitcher and first base.