Infield coach Perry Hill has a lot to do this spring, as the Marlins will have three new regulars in the infield, and getting them up to speed and on the same page is one of the key goals for Miami as the season approaches.
Adeiny Hechavarria (second from right) is the only holdover from last season in the infield. From left, Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal and Casey McGehee are all new to the Marlins.
AP/USA TODAY Sports
By Christina De Nicola
JUPITER, Fla. -- "Stop it! Stop it!"
It's hard not to hear Marlins infield coach Perry Hill when he's working in the Bone Yard located at Miami's spring training complex at Roger Dean Stadium.
Hill, an infield guru nicknamed "Bone," doesn't contain his excitement when a player makes a solid defensive play during drills.
"Sometimes you work on something and you practice it and practice it and you practice it, and all of a sudden it kicks in," Hill said. "That's when you get, 'Stop it, that's what I'm talking about! That's it! That's it!'
"You just get a little motivation of, 'We're finally there. Now, let's get the repetition and refine it.' "
There are three new starters in the infield: Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal and Casey McGehee. The lone returner, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, will enter just his second full big-league season.
Then there are prospects such as Derek Dietrich and Colin Moran, who are either learning a new position or experiencing their first major-league camp.
During home games in Jupiter, players head to the Bone Yard following batting practice and go through drills for a half hour.
Entering Thursday's game in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers, the remaining Marlins infielders have committed eight errors.
"I throw a lot of stuff at them," Hill said. "Sometimes it's not pretty early in spring, but you know what, a bunch of guys come from different spots, and we're trying to get them to all mesh. It takes a while. You've got to be a little bit patient.
"By the middle-end of the month, we're going to be right where we want to be, but we've got a lot of different guys and personalities. It's not like they came up through the system learning all this. It takes a while."
Here is Hill's breakdown of the starting infield and a couple utility players ...
Hill: I had him in Pittsburgh. He's solid. He positions himself well, and that's it. I tell all these guys. If you're in the right spot, more good things are going to happen. That's the key is being in the right spots.
Hill: There's a lot of little things he had to learn. Most people think it's just a shorter throw, but there's a lot more going on there than you think. Most of what you do is going away from the intended target. I think he's realizing now that there's more to it than he thought. But he's made really good progress. His pivot is getting better and better each day. His double-play feeds are getting better. That's what you look for. It's always on a steady rise, never been leveled off or going the other way.
Hill on Hechavarria/Furcal connection: They're just talking, getting to know each other. It helps if you have a rapport. It's not necessary, but it helps when you do. Every little bit helps. Anything (Furcal) can tell these guys is nothing but a plus for us.
Hill: I like him. Good student, hard worker. He's one of those guys you have to chase off the field. He's a good worker. That's always good. You get one of those guys, you want to hold onto those kind. I think that's just his DNA. He's a grinder and a worker. He's one of those kind you want.
Hill on Dietrich at third base: It's an adjustment. I think he's turned into a really good second baseman. He's got to learn to play different spots. It'll enhance his ability to make a higher club. He's done well. Once again, playing in the middle you get to see the pitch and the location. At third, you don't.
That was completely new. He had to learn to do things the other way. The advantage in the middle is you can see the pitch called and the location. Here, sometimes the ball gets up on you. It's an adjustment period. It's not just, 'Go over there and catch it.' He's doing well. He got really good at second base. There's no reason we think he can't do it at third.