Hensley quietly producing

From the first day of Spring Training, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez made it clear he is looking for strike throwers.

Clay Hensley certainly is doing that.

hensley1a.jpgIn two Grapefruit League long-relief appearances, Henlsey has struck out five in six scoreless innings without issuing a walk. The 30-year-old right-hander did hit a batter on Thursday on a pitch that appeared to be impacted by the 23 mph winds at Roger Dean Stadium.

A non-roster invitee who spent last year at Triple-A New Orleans, Hensley is a sleeper candidate to make the team.

Recently, Gonzalez said Hensley was an “interesting” pitcher in camp because, at worse, he could be a sixth-starter choice. He could make the club as a long reliever and spot starter. He also could open in Triple-A and be high on the list to bring up if there is a need for a starter.

However it plays out, Hensley foremost is pleased that he’s healthy. A torn labrum plagued him since 2007, a year in which he underwent shoulder surgery.

“The biggest thing now, for me, is I’m healthy and I’m 100 percent,” said Henlsey, who has had big league experience with the Padres. “I feel I’m back to my pre-injury form. It’s taken a one-and-a-half, two years. I know I spent last season in the Minors, but I needed it. I needed to get innings in. I needed to get my mechanics back. I needed to get my delivery right. It’s something we’ve worked on, and I feel healthy.”

Hensley has appeared in four big league seasons, the last with the Padres in 2008. The right-hander opened 2009 in the Astros system, but he eventually hooked up with the Marlins. At New Orleans, he made 20 starts and appeared in 25 games. He threw 124 innings, and was 9-4 with a 3.56 ERA.

In the offseason, he had offers from 12 clubs, but opted to return to the Marlins.

Even though he is on the outside looking in when it comes to a rotation spot, he is thus far capitalizing on his opportunity.

“That was the big reason to come back. We had a lot of offers this season,” Hensley said. “I felt a little obligated to come back because the Marlins gave me innings last year, and to get back on track. There was some familiarity with them last year. It wasn’t all new. We had a decent season last year. From what I see from the outside in, is there is some opportunity here. I’m trying to come in here, get people out, and see where the cards fall.”

— Joe Frisaro





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