MLB

Marlins open up center field competition

Share This Story

   
 

JUPITER, Fla. (AP)

A last-place finish often results in several position battles the following season. Not so much for the 2013 Miami Marlins.

Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, catcher Rob Brantly, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and first baseman Logan Morrison, when he returns from knee surgery, are projected to be everyday players.

Barring a spring surprise or disappointment, second baseman Donovan Solano, third baseman Placido Polanco and left fielder Juan Pierre also are expected to be in the lineup.

That leaves center field.

Justin Ruggiano and Gorkys Hernandez return to compete for the job. Pierre also could see time there; he never had the strongest arm but still can cover the ground. Highly rated prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick also will get looks.

Who can best get it done defensively will factor in rookie manager Mike Redmond's decision on who starts.

''With a young pitching staff, those guys are going to give up some hits. We're going to preach pounding the strike zone and putting the ball in play,'' Redmond said. ''So, we're going to have to be able to pick it up and play catch. Defense is going huge for us.''

Ruggiano, 30, was the biggest positive during Miami's abysmal 2012 season. He batted .313 with 13 homers and 36 RBI in 91 games with the Marlins after spending the previous five seasons mostly in the minors when he wasn't enjoying a several stints Tampa Bay.

Despite last year's impressive 288-at-bat production, Ruggiano said he wasn't surprised at having to compete for a starting job this season.

''I've never really been in a situation where anything's been handed to me,'' Ruggiano said. ''It doesn't matter if I was an All-Star last year or if I had a tough year. I'm going to come in and handle my business the same.

''I can't control who makes the decision on who plays where, but I know I can control what kind of work I put forth. I know that I will not get outworked for that position.''

Ruggiano did not play winter ball for the first time in his career. Hernandez, meanwhile, was impressive in Venezuela. The 25 year old hit a league-leading .367 in 226 at-bats.

''I just want to do the same thing I did in Venezuela -- I was focused every time I went to home plate,'' said Hernandez, who was acquired from Pittsburgh for Gaby Sanchez last July. ''I'm going to do my best and see what happens.''

Redmond had not seen Hernandez perform in person before spring training opened last week.

''I heard he's a tremendous defender and he can really run,'' Redmond said. ''He's had a great winter ball swinging the bat. Hopefully, he'll come in and in his opportunities to play, do well and make it a tough decision for us. That's what we want.''

Pierre was signed as a free agent in the offseason to play left, bring some speed and add professionalism to the clubhouse.

''I have no preferences as to where I play, I just want to play,'' Pierre said.

Yelich and Marisnick are considered two of the organization's top three prospects along with right-hander Jose Fernandez. Yelich currently seems destined for center, with Marisnick possible moving to left.

''Being a young guy, this is like the best organization you could be in,'' Yelich said. ''They're going to use their young guys and give you a shot - that's really all you can ask for.''

Tagged: Marlins, Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..