Yuli Gurriel may have metaphorically forced the Marlins’ hand in the decision for the final roster spot. The first baseman was a non-roster signing during the fourth week of spring training games on March 9, along with shortstop José Iglesias. It is likely only one of them makes the season-opening 26-man roster, and both players can opt out of their contracts if the team doesn’t select them.
Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals was the final one prior to their opt-out opportunity. Gurriel made his seventh start for Miami (Iglesias has played in six and started four). It was also Gurriel’s third consecutive game recording a hit, going 2-for-3.
Gurriel began the spring 1-for-13, but has gone 4-for-9 with a double and RBI since March 21.
“In the first couple of games, he kind of cut off his swing a little bit towards the right field,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “And then you could just see that the timing was just getting a little bit better and better and better. And now it’s barrel to the ball and pull-side doubles. And that’s who he is.”
While Gurriel has been criticized for his defense, he made a couple of solid plays in the fifth inning—he jumped for and corralled a high throw from third baseman Jean Segura to complete the ground out against Willson Contreras, and made a diving catch on a Nolan Gorman line drive to his right side. Statcast officially had the ball at 76.5 MPH, but that was likely a mistake (it looked much faster than that off the ball).
Nice athletic save by Yuli Gurriel at 1B to corral a high throw from Jean Segura pic.twitter.com/cT1rQvCCfe— Alex Krutchik (@AlexKrutchikCJN) March 25, 2023
“That defense is real, I don’t care what any metric says,” said Schumaker, who added that Gurriel took ground balls at second and third base on the backfields this week. “He’s that type of athlete. He’d been needed to play first in Houston. But if you watch him take ground balls, he can play multiple positions…That’s just who he is. He’s a winning baseball player.”
No official announcement has been made for Gurriel’s and Iglesias’ statuses. Schumaker said he and his coaching staff will have a factor in the decision, but that general manager Kim Ng will make the ultimate call.
“Those conversations are tough, right,” Schumaker said. “Because you try to make the best decision you can to help you win at the big league level. And there’s guys that are passionate about certain people trying to make the team, and I think that’s what you want. You want a competition in the camp so there’s tough decisions, and this year we’ve had that.”
The 39-year-old had a 105 OPS+ against lefties last season, compared to a dismal 68 OPS+ for the Marlins as a whole.
José Iglesias entered Saturday’s game in the seventh inning and went 0-for-1. He is 2-for-13 this spring.
Edward Cabrera finishes spring training on a positive
Marlins starting pitcher Edward Cabrera ended his solid spring on a high note. Facing the Cardinals “A” squad, he exited the game with a 1-0 lead after 5 1⁄3 innings.
He began the day striking out Brendan Donovan, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado on a fastball, slider, and changeup, respectively.
As is usual with Cabrera, he primarily utilized his changeup (29%), but went heavier on the curveball (25%) compared to his fastball and sinker (both 16%). He only allowed two hits, and none of them came on his curveball, changeup, or slider.
Cabrera had perhaps the best spring of all Marlins pitchers aside from reigning Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara. In four starts and 15 innings, the 24-year-old had a 1.80 ERA and 8.4 K/9.
When asked after the game via a translator about if he feels ready for the regular season, Cabrera simply said, “one-hundred percent.”
-The only run scored by the Marlins starters was when Joey Wendle crossed home on a wild pitch in the third inning.
-Jon Berti scored on a Joshua Zamora single in the eighth inning.
-Center fielder Bryan De La Cruz ran 102 feet to catch a Goldschmidt fly ball on the warning track in the fourth inning.
Bryan De La Cruz runs 102 feet to make this catch on the warning track. pic.twitter.com/FurcUZZXQF— Alex Krutchik (@AlexKrutchikCJN) March 25, 2023
-Cabrera himself did not allow a run, but A.J. Puk allowed his inherited runner to score in the sixth inning. It was a bloop single into center by Arenado that fell in no-man’s land between three fielders. Puk pitched 1 2⁄3 innings and allowed two hits and a walk.
-Matt Barnes walked home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. He had three walks and allowed one hit in 2⁄3 of an inning.