Tommy Hutton Q&A: On Marlins’ health, Gordon, Yelich, early season outlook

The Miami Marlins have packed up in Jupiter and moved south with Opening Day four days away. They will face two of their minor-league affiliates this weekend after a month’s worth of Grapefruit League games in which the Marlins finished 14-12-1.

During this time, newcomers Michael Morse, Dee Gordon and Martin Prado gelled in the infield. Veteran Ichiro Suzuki became one of the boys in the outfield despite the age difference between him, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Final roster spots were won by Don Kelly and Donovan Solano.

Now begins the marathon 162-game season. And if all goes according to Miami’s plan, it will extend well into October for the playoffs.

FOX Sports Florida’s Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) spoke with Marlins analyst Tom Hutton, whom you can follow on Twitter (@THUT14), about Miami’s spring training and the season’s opening weeks. She’ll catch up with Hutton and other members of the broadcast team throughout the 2015 season for insight on the club.

FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: What are your thoughts on the way spring played out?

TOMMY HUTTON: Well, first of all, as we speak on Tuesday (March 31) — knock on wood — the best thing about spring training is that you don’t try to focus too much on numbers. You focus on health. And so far to this point the health has been good. That’s all you want. You start looking around baseball and teams that have injury issues. You’re happy that your guys are healthy.

FSF: Look at Anthony Rendon with the Nationals.

HUTTON: (Jayson) Werth just starting to swing the bat, (Denard) Span.

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FSF: Of the new guys, who has impressed you? What are your thoughts on those guys?

HUTTON: Watching Morse over the years, you get to see up close why he’s such a good hitter. He’s not just a big guy that takes big cuts and hits the ball a long way. He’s a premium hitter. He knows what to do, he has a plan when he goes up there. I think he’s going to be great hitting behind Stanton.

FSF: What about Dee Gordon? He seems as advertised.

HUTTON: As advertised. He’s going to get a lot of pitches to hit, he’s going to put the ball in play. I like what he said: ‘I’m not going to walk a lot’ because guys don’t want to walk him. He’s going to put the ball in play and then he’s going to be on his own. He’s going to run, and Yelich is a great fit behind him because he’s patient, he can take pitches. The top of the order with Morse behind Stanton — all of that sets up to give the club much better offense moreso than they had last year.

FSF: You mention Yelich. First Stanton gets signed long term, now Yelich. It’s got to be nice as a Marlins fan or even the community to see this direction of locking up young guys?

HUTTON: I think over the years we’ve heard, certainly I’ve heard it from fans, ‘Why don’t they lock up some of these players? How come they get these young players and let them go?’ The organization has really taken a step forward and shown they’re dedicated to win not only this year but put together a good run of winning seasons.

FSF: It seems like a trend in baseball where you see a lot of these clubs trying to get the young talent to stay. They’re signing them — with some risk — to avoid those arbitration years.

HUTTON: To some degree when you look at it from an organizational standpoint, some degree of risk because you have to say to yourself — whatever organization it is — if you have four or five guys, probably they’re not all going to pan out. You hope you get the right ones.

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FSF: We’ll talk about (Henderson) Alvarez since he was recently named Opening Day starter. Oddly enough he’s been part of two no-hitters on Closing Day. What can we expect from him as the top-of-the-rotation starter?

HUTTON: I would say a no-hitter Opening Day! (laughs) I just expect him to go out there and do what he always does. He throws strikes, gets ground balls. He’s fun to watch. If you’re a fan and you pick certain players that you want to watch, he’s fun to watch out on the field the way he fields his position, when he’s at the plate. They don’t call him ‘The Alien’ for nothing. You don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’s always exciting.

FSF: Looking towards the first couple weeks of the season, the Marlins play the Braves, the Rays. Then they go on a bit of a road trip (for 10 games). They don’t see the Nationals. Is it crucial for them to get off to a very good start?

HUTTON: You hate to put ‘crucial’ and tag it that way, but I think it’s important to get off to a good start because I think they have some teams that they’re playing that they should play well against. And I think just because when you put a mix of different guys together, sometimes it’s hard as a six-month season unfolds to just get that cohesiveness. Spring training’s one thing, the season’s another thing. Hopefully they get off to a good start and they have the teams to play that they should.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at