Marlins finalize rotation for start of '14 season
Right-hander Koehler wins battle for club's No. 5 spot over southpaw Hand
JUPITER, Fla. -- Everything fell in line this spring regarding the Marlins' rotation, and there are no surprises with the final outcome.
The way manager Mike Redmond and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez set the order the first week of Spring Training games is how they will stack up when the season starts on Monday against the Rockies at Marlins Park.
As previously announced, Jose Fernandez will start on Opening Day. The 21-year-old sensation is the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, and he already has achieved All-Star status.
Following Fernandez will be Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler.
All five are right-handers, and Koehler won the spot over lefty Brad Hand, who will make the team as a long reliever.
"I'm excited," Redmond said. "Jose, obviously, is our main guy and our Opening Day starting pitcher. For me, all the other guys are young guys with good arms. I know everybody makes a big deal about where they fall in line. But after Opening Day, it doesn't really matter.
"It's the guys' jobs to go out there and give us a chance to win ballgames. They always talk about battles for rotations' spots, or fourth or fifth spots. For me, it's more of a battle to get into the rotation. That's what we saw."
A year ago, the Marlins finished 62-100, but the team featured strong pitching. In fact, the pitching staff of 2013 set a franchise ERA mark of 3.71.
"I feel like everybody is picking up where they left off last year," Eovaldi said. "The first few games this spring, we were getting everything back. I feel like everybody is ready for the season to start. I feel like everything is the same. I really feel like we're going to pick up where we left off last year."
Hand, who is out of options, made his final spring start on Thursday, throwing four scoreless innings in Miami's 6-4 win over the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
As expected, the lefty will move to the bullpen.
"I'll do whatever they ask me to do," Hand said. "It's a lot different than starting. You just have to come in there and be ready to go right away. You don't have an inning or two to kind of get things going. You've got to get it rolling right away, and come right after people."
Koehler, 27, is the oldest on the staff. He's also shown the most improvement from a year ago. The right-hander impressed all spring, posting a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings.
"It really doesn't matter if it doesn't carry over into the season," Koehler said.
"I'm excited about this team. It's a good group of guys. We've really come together over the last six weeks. It's a talented group, and a hungry group. When you mix those three things together good stuff tends to happen. Hopefully, we'll just go out there and play hard every night, compete and hopefully things will take over and the results will be where we want."
Lucas struck by pitch, sustains hand fracture
JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins infielder Ed Lucas sustained a fracture to his left hand after being struck by a pitch on Thursday in Miami's 6-4 win over the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
In the morning, Lucas was informed he made the club as the utility infielder. His injury occurred in the eighth inning when he was clipped on the back of his hand by a Scott McGregor fastball.
After immediately coming out of the game, Lucas had an X-ray, which showed a non-displaced fracture.
Now that Lucas will open the season on the disabled list, Donovan Solano will rejoin the team hours after he officially was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Lucas and Solano were in competition for the utility infield spot.
"It's sore," Lucas said.
Lucas and the Marlins initially were hopeful that the injury wouldn't be serious.
The Marlins rallied with five runs in the eighth inning. During the rally, Lucas was pegged by a McGregor pitch. He was checked by trainer Sean Cunningham and immediately replaced for a pinch-runner.
Earlier in Spring Training, Lucas missed about a week due to a strained left hamstring. He has impressed since his return.
The final days of Spring Training are always reason for concern regarding freakish injuries.
"These last three days are torture," manager Mark Redmond said. "You're trying to get the guys through it. At the same time, too. Some of those guys you're trying to get at-bats for, especially, your role players. We hope everything is all right."
Marisnick tough cut after fine spring season
JUPITER, Fla. -- From the outset, Jake Marisnick's objective was to make a strong Spring Training impression, and create a tough decision for the Marlins.
The decision became official on Thursday morning when Marisnick was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
In many ways, the decision was predetermined because all along the Marlins wanted Marisnick to continue his development in the Minor Leagues. So in that regard, the call wasn't unexpected.
Marisnick's objective was to give the team something to think about. He certainly did that. Even while working on refining his swing, the speedy outfielder batted .432 (19-for-44) with five doubles, a triple and four RBIs.
Sending Marisnick down was especially tough for manager Mike Redmond, who previously managed the outfielder in the Minors in Toronto's system.
"Jake is a more personal one for me because I've had him since he was 19 years old, and we've gone through a lot," Redmond said. "It's been fun to see him develop. At the same time, too, it was tough to tell him he was going to the Minor Leagues after he had such a great spring. I really believe this is the right thing for his development. He looked great. He looked a lot better. "
The hope is Marisnick keeps making the necessary adjustments to not just make it to the big leagues, but to make him a future star.
With his speed, power potential and defensive skills, Marisnick can become a game-changer. It's all about making his shortened swing second nature.
"I think the important thing for us is he goes down there, gets his at-bats, so when he comes back, when don't have that conversation again, because he's out there forever," Redmond said. "I really believe he's going to be a great Major Leaguer for a long time. He's made some swings and had some at-bats I'd never seen before."