Forecasting roster spots
Speculating on who will stay and go is part of the fun in Spring Training.
In Marlins camp, there are some interesting position battles going on, and as we head into the final two weeks, here are some things to follow.
Based on conversations and observations, it looks as if the backup position player spots are coming into focus.
Obviously, until moves are official, anything can happen. But taking the temperature of the ballclub as of Saturday afternoon, it looks like the position players off the bench may be Ronny Paulino, Wes Helms, Emilio Bonifacio, Brian Barden and Mike Lamb.
The Marlins every day outfield, if healthy, is set. Unlike last year, when Jeremy Hermida was frequently removed for defensive reasons in the late innings, there may not be a need for a defensive outfield replacement. Chris Coghlan, Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross won’t be coming out of games because of their defense.
Bonifacio, meanwhile, can play center field, as well as infield. Cody Ross, who will play right field, also can move to center field, if needed.
Barden has been on the team’s radar for more than a year, and chances are good that he will break camp with the club. Now that they have him, he is a quality defensive infielder who can play shortstop, second and third base. On Sunday in Viera against the Nationals, he subbed in at third base.
Gaby Sanchez most likely will win the first base job. If in late innings, the Marlins take Sanchez, a rookie, out for whatever reasons, Jorge Cantu can slide from third base to first base. Barden could get playing time at third in that scenario. Helms, the primary pinch-hitter option, also could fill that role.
Defensively, Barden is very good. He may be this year’s version of Alfredo Amezaga, who is now with the Dodgers.
Lamb, meanwhile, has the edge as the left-handed bat off the bench. In Spring Training, Lamb is 5-for-15, with a .375 on-base percentage. Lamb hasn’t struck out in Spring Training. To fill that lefty situational role, the Marlins are looking for someone who makes contact.
Primarily a first and third basemen, Lamb also could be the emergency third catcher.
It is looking like Jorge Jimenez, the Rule 5 claim who was dealt to Florida as part of the Matt Lindstrom trade, may not fit into the Marlins plans right now. If the Marlins indeed decide to keep Lamb, then Jimenez would likely be offered back to the Red Sox, his original team. Jimenez is 3-for-18 thus far.
Again, the team hasn’t officially made any final decisions, and jobs could still be won based on merit, or if there are injuries.
Typically, how players are used in these final two weeks will indicate what roles the club is considering. The Marlins soon will be looking to give their regulars more playing time, which limits opportunity for prospects who project to open in the Minor Leagues.
On Monday, the Marlins are off, and two starting pitching candidates are slated to throw in Minor League games on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium — Andrew Miller and Clay Hensley.
– Joe Frisaro
(in photo, Brian Barden)