Here's what you need to know as the Marlins get set to open spring training.
By CHARLIE McCARTHYFS Florida
Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, Fla.
Pitchers/Catchers, Feb. 12; Full Squad, Feb. 15.
69-93, last in NL East
Mike Redmond (1st year)
The personable former Marlins catcher begins his first big-league managerial stint. He managed the last two years at Class A in the Toronto Blue Jays system.
Reid Cornelius (Bullpen), Joey Espada (Third Base), Chuck Hernandez (Pitching), Perry Hill (First Base/Infield), Rob Leary (Bench), Tino Martinez (Hitting).
Hill is one of the majors’ most respected infield coaches. Martinez was hired to work with Miami’s young hitters and to help establish a more professional clubhouse atmosphere. Leary, a high school teammate of Barry Bonds, is a veteran coach and scout with Expos, Marlins, Red Sox and Indians.
1. Juan Pierre, LF – Member of ’03 World Champions returns to team for his 14th big-league season. Hit .307 with 37 stolen bases with the Phillies last season.
2. Placido Polanco, 3B – Career .299 hitter is a veteran of 5 postseason teams. The Dominican Republic native also can play second.
3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF – Second in the NL in homers (37) last year despite being limited to 123 games due to injuries. Marlins need his production and leadership.
4. Logan Morrison, 1B – Still recovering from right knee surgery, he’ll make the move from left to first. Among the players who need to produce so opponents don’t pitch around Stanton.
5. Justin Ruggiano, CF – One of the few ’12 positives, he needs to prove a .313 batting average wasn’t an aberration.
6. Rob Brantly, C – The lefty swinger showed promise after being acquired from Detroit last July. He hit .290 in 31 games with Miami.
7. Donovan Solano, 2B – The native Colombian hit .295 in 93 games last season. He’ll be given the chance to win the second base job.
8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS – Few shortstops provide better defense than the 23-year-old Cuban defector, acquired from Toronto. How much he’ll hit is uncertain.
OF Chris Coghlan, IF Zack Cox, 3B-1B Greg Dobbs, OF Gorkys Hernandez, C Jeff Mathis.
Dobbs is Miami’s top pinch hitter. Rule 5 pick Alfredo Silverio, once considered a five-tool prospect, missed last year after being in an auto accident. He needs to earn a spot on the roster or he’ll be offered back to the Dodgers. Non-roster invitees such as Austin Kearns and Kevin Kouzmanoff also could land jobs.
1. RHP Ricky Nolasco – Moves up to staff ace following the departures of Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle.
2. RHP Jacob Turner – Acquired from Detroit in Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade, he has four pitches but needs to cut down on HRs allowed (12 in 67.2 innings last year).
3. RHP Nathan Eovaldi – Acquired from L.A. Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade, the hard-throwing 23-year-old was 3-7 in 12 starts with Miami last year.
4. RHP Henderson Alvarez – Acquired in the big offseason trade with Toronto, the 22-year-old Venezuelan is a hard-throwing sinkerballer.
5. LHP Wade LeBlanc, LHP Brad Hand, RHP Tom Koehler, RHP Alex Sanabia – Throw in non-roster invitee John Maine and this is a wide-open competition.
LHP Mike Dunn, RHP Chris Hatcher, LHP Dan Jennings, RHP Jon Rauch, RHP Ryan Webb, RHP Steve Cishek (Closer)
Other than Cishek as the closer, no job appears to be set. Veterans such as Dunn and Rauch figure to be in the pen unless they get injured or battered in the Grapefruit League. Hatcher, Jennings and late-September call-up RHP A.J. Ramos are back, and RHP Jose Ceda returns from Tommy John surgery. LHP Scott Maine pitched for the Cubs and Indians last year. RHP Arquimedes Caminero, who underwent TJ surgery two years ago, struck out 44 in 38 1/3 minor league innings last season. LHP Braulio Lara is a Rule 5 pick from Tampa Bay.
What we'll learn
1. Will any non-roster invitees find a job?
Free-agent veterans invited to camp include 1B Matt Downs, IF-OF Chone Figgins, 2B Nick Green, OF Austin Kearns, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, RHP John Maine, OF Bryan Petersen, RHP Chad Qualls and RHP Kevin Slowey. It’s very possible several will stick.
2. When will Logan Morrison take the field?
After undergoing right knee surgery in September, Morrison could be cleared to run soon after spring training starts. The team is cautiously optimistic Morrison will be ready for Opening Day.
3. What are the key position battles?
Second base and center field could offer competition. Soloano has been penciled in at second, but if he doesn’t hit and/or someone surprises at third (Kouzmanoff?), Polanco could move over. Ruggiano seems to have the edge in center, but Gorkys Hernandez and Chris Coghlan will try to impress. Prospect Jake Marisnick, 21, likely needs more seasoning.
4. Is there any chance top prospects Jose Fernandez and/or Christian Yelich earn a spot?
Not likely. RHP Fernandez has been tabbed the future Marlins ace, and OF Yelich is the organization’s top position-player prospect. Both appear set to start the year at Double-A, and neither will be forced along. The best either could do in 2013 probably is to get a late season call-up.