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Wood aiming for third

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Jason Wood is hoping he will get a shot at third.

Though the Marlins gave him a major league contract and expect him to win the job, another player hopes to give manager Fredi Gonzalez something to think about.

Jason Wood turned 38 this month, and last season was his first full year in the majors, but he's not far removed from being an everyday player in the minors. Since joining the organization in 2002, Wood totaled more than 450 at-bats in four of the past six seasons, most as a third baseman at Triple-A.

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"I'll be ready and I'm in shape, and I'm willing to take that challenge," said Wood, who agreed to a minor league contract that will pay him $420,000 in the majors. "I pretty much knew what my role was last year from the get-go, and I was comfortable with it. ... I saw [Castillo] come up as a shortstop in the Pirates organization when I was over there. I'm ready to take on anybody."

I hope Woody gets an opportunity to compete for the starting third baseman position on opening day during spring training.  But I doubt he will.

It's not that he isn't capable of winning the slot, but I'm afraid that Castillo is already penciled in, and it won't matter what Wood does during the spring.  It will be Castillo's place in the field until he proves beyond any reasonable doubt that he can't handle it.

Just think of Castillo as last year's Jorge Julio.  As least as far as the club sticking with him beyond the point that everyone knows he is the wrong man for the job.

I would like to think that all the players have an equal shot of making the 25-man roster come opening day, but that just isn't the case.  Or at least it hasn't been in the recent past.  It always seems like the front office wants their new acquisitions to be given every chance and then some, whether they deserve it or not.

Oh, I've been meaning to address this and after which I probably leave Mr. Castillo alone.  Or at least until the terms of his contract are released.

If his Venezuelan winter league numbers are any indication, Castillo appears determined to prove he's more than a backup. Through 47 games for Caracas, he was batting .379 (72 for 190) with 14 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 37 RBI and a 1.013 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Let's see how he did last year in the Venezuelan winter league.

Batted .308 (53-for-172) with 15 doubles, five home runs and 40 RBI in 46 games with Caracas during the Venezuelan Winter League.

And that translated into a .244/.270/.335  year in the majors for 2007.

If his Venezuelan numbers this year remain the indicator they did last year, let's just say: it ain't looking good.

All of that said, I hope Castillo has a great year and plays so far above his head that his nose bleeds for a week to ten days.  I am, after all, a Marlins fan and I want all the Fish to do well.