Marlins improving defensively

Protect the baseball was among the Marlins’ highest priorities heading into this season. A couple of trades made after the 2008 season were done to reshape the roster to add speed, athleticism and defense.

A year ago, the club was more power oriented. But first baseman Mike Jacobs was dealt to the Royals for reliever Leo Nunez, and left fielder Josh Willingham was sent to the Nationals as part of a deal that brought in third baseman Emilio Bonifacio.

“We’ve seen improvement, no doubt about it,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

Heading into Thursday, the Marlins were tied for 21st overall in the Major Leagues in field percentage at .982. They were joined by the Cubs, Reds, Mets and A’s.

Now, the current lineup has been slightly different than what the team drew up in Spring Training. Jorge Cantu was switched from third base last year to first base. Bonifacio, a natural second baseman, was shifted to third. Infielder Chris Coghlan was switched to left field.

The Marlins had thought the outfield would have Jeremy Hermida in left field, Cameron Maybin in center and Cody Ross in right. But Maybin struggled early and was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in May.

Ross went to center, Hermida to right, and Coghlan in left.

“The defense itself has been good,” Beinfest said.

A case in point of how the defense stepped up came in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Padres. Ricky Nolasco pitched 6 1/3 strong innings, striking out 10. The defense came up big on a couple of occasions and the offense scratched out some runs.

“Again, this is not rocket science,” Beinfest said. “You get a quality start, you play good defense, you’re in the game, and you end up winning, even if the offense wasn’t going crazy. It worked out.

“We’ve seen that steady improvement. I think in May, there was that little bit of everything. The pitching was struggling. The defense. I think since then, it’s steadily improved. There is still room for improvement.”

– Joe Frisaro

 

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