Miami's 25-man roster is almost set, and the club's final two bench spots were awarded to Donovan Solano and Don Kelly on Tuesday. Reid Brignac, who was also in the mix for a bench spot, opted out of his contract with the Marlins, and Jordan Valdespin will open the season with Triple-A New Orleans.
Jeff Baker, Ichiro Suzuki, and Jeff Mathis all were thought to have bench spots secured and Miami held a competition for the final two spots. The only remaining question with regard to the roster is the bullpen, and Aaron Crow has a sore elbow and may open the season on the disabled list. As a result, Sam Dyson could make the club as a reliever out of spring training.
Solano, 27, has experience and should prove to be a versatile infield option. He posted a .252/.300/.323 batting line to complement three home runs and 28 RBIs in 111 games with the Marlins last season. Solano can play several infield positions, and carrying a utility infielder like Solano gives Miami infield depth. Michael Morse and Martin Prado may require an occasional day off as the season progresses, and Solano can play at either corner. If Dee Gordon is not in the lineup at second base, Solano can readily fill in there, too.
While Solano is an internal candidate who the Marlins were familiar with heading into Spring Training, Kelly, a former Detroit Tiger, won a spot as a non-roster invitee. He posted a .235/.332/.288 battling line in 95 games last season and will complement Suzuki as a left-handed pinch hitting option late in games. Kelly can play the outfield, first base, and catcher if necessary, and according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, Manager Mike Redmond favored Kelly because of his versatility.
"You look at Donovan and what he's been able to do for us the last couple of years," Redmond said. "It seems like every year he goes out and becomes a starter at a position, and he gets big hits. He deserves to be on this ballclub.
"Kelly is the same. But you can add all the outfield positions, plus emergency catcher, pinch-runner, first base."
The Marlins will carry 13 position players, with Brignac, Johnson, and Cole Gillespie among the non-roster invitees who were hoping to win a spot on Miami's bench. Valdespin will give the Marlins infield depth, and will likely be called upon at some point in 2015, while Solano could be called upon if the Marlins are in need of another catcher. Miami's bench was productive in 2014 and has a notable amount of experience heading into this season.
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