MIAMI — During Sunday’s presser following a sweep by the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond called the defense a "big concern."
The Marlins rank 28th in the majors with a .978 fielding percentage.
"It’s something we’ve got to improve," Redmond said. "If it comes to playing guys who can play defense who can pick up the ball and throw it, then that’s what we have to do."
His first move came Monday for the series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, when Ed Lucas started over Derek Dietrich at second base and in the second spot of the order.
Dietrich failed to turn a double play during the third inning of Sunday’s 4-2 loss, allowing the tying run to score.
In 36 games at second, Dietrich has committed seven errors — tied for most in the majors at the position with New York Mets’ Daniel Murphy and Atlanta’s Dan Uggla. The play Sunday was not scored an error because a double play cannot be assumed. In his lone appearance at third, he had another error.
Last season, Dietrich made just two errors for a .992 fielding percentage over 57 games.
Redmond decided to give Dietrich the day off Monday and will make decisions on whom to play on a day-to-day basis. Asked whether there was such thing as a defensive slump, Redmond said he didn’t know.
"Sometimes it’s like anything — offense, sometimes you just need a couple days to clear your head and relax," Redmond said. "A lot of times that works. I think it worked before giving him a couple days off and let him relax and seemed to play a lot better after that."
MORRIS MAKES IT TO MIAMI
New reliever Bryan Morris’ travel plans didn’t go without a hitch.
After learning the Marlins acquired him in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, he and his wife tried flying from Los Angeles to Miami. Due to inclement weather, they had to spend the night in Houston before arriving in South Florida on Monday at noon.
Morris called the trade unexpected but said he was "very excited." He rejoins former teammates Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee, who were with the Pirates in 2012.
"There’s always an opportunity as long as you’re playing the game," Morris said. "I’m going to take it and try to run with it and hopefully get the job done. Mainly for me is controlling the energy early in my delivery and trying to work downhill. When I’m working down in the zone, I’m pretty consistent."
The hope is Morris’ presence will provide a reliable arm in a bullpen needing a bridge from the middle innings to set-up men Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos to closer Steve Cishek.
Miami has continued bringing up and sending down players such as lefty Dan Jennings and righty Arquimedes Caminero — even purchasing the contract of right-hander Chris Hatcher — for help.
"This guy’s been through it," Redmond said. "He’s pitched in big games and done quite a few different roles. He brings that experience where we can get him out there in any situation — for me — and let him go out there and pitch."
The 27-year-old, like Ramos, experienced his first full season in 2013. Both guys were September call-ups in 2012.
Morris has pitched in various scenarios, initially multiple-inning outings last season. His appearances ranged from the fifth to the 11th. He is 4-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 21 games in 2014.
"I think that’s what’s so attractive when you talk about guys," Redmond said. "That versatility is not bringing up a rookie to try and see what he’s got. We know the stuff he has. Now it’s just a matter of him getting out there and pitching. I think a change of scenery will be good for him and he’ll realize quick how big a part of this team he is."
WIVES SOFTBALL GAME
Before the Citrus Series opener, wives from the Rays and Marlins competed in the fourth annual Citrus Cup softball game.
The Marlins held off the Rays for a 10-9 victory, snapping a two-game skid in the series. Miami won the inaugural game 6-1 in 2011 but lost 14-2 in 2012 and 12-11 last season.
Miami’s wives played for the Major League Baseball RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, while Tampa Bay’s wives played for Autism Speaks.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who went on the seven-day concussion disabled list Sunday, still felt dizzy and was sent home before the finale against the Braves.