Sim Game in the Rain
They started off throwing in a light drizzle. About 30 minutes later, when the conditions worsened under a steady rain, they were shut down.
Bottom line for Clay Hensley and Andrew Miller is they both got their work in on a day that didn’t seem possible.
With the Marlins having their lone off day of Spring Training, Hensley and Miller were scheduled to pitch. Initially, they were called in on Monday to throw in a scrimmage on Field 2 of the Roger Dean Stadium complex.
Because of the rain, the scrimmage didn’t take place, and instead, the two threw to batters in a simulated game that lasted about 30 minutes. Batters were hitting under a cage, and the two pitchers dealt with messy conditions. There weren’t any fielders.
Hensley, a non-roster invitee, continues to improve his chances of winning a rotation spot. In three innings — including a four-out inning due to a low pitch count — he didn’t allow a run. Of his 32 pitches, 18 were for strikes.
On a couple of occasions the right-hander slipped after throwing a pitch. A sinker-ball pitcher, Hensley induced nine groundballs out of the 11 batters he faced. He struck out two. His fastball topped out at 88 mph, and he was mainly throwing in the 85-86 mph range. Velocity isn’t a major issue with him, as long as his sinker is breaking downward, which it has all camp.
“He commands all his pitches,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s putting himself into position where he can fill a role easy.”
The Marlins are looking for two remaining rotation spots. Miller and Hensley are candidates, along with Chris Volstad, Rick VandenHurk and Hayden Penn.
Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco have been named the Nos. 1 and 2 starters, and Anibal Sanchez is regarded as the No. 3 starter, although that hasn’t been announced. Volstad is a frontrunner to be the No. 4 starter.
Gonzalez added that Hensley, if he is not in the rotation, could still win a bullpen spot.
The left-handed Miller threw 43 pitches with 23 strikes, and he had four strikeouts and two walks in the sim game.
Miller’s velocity was 92-93 mph in wet conditions on Monday.
When they were done throwing on the field, Miller and Hensley threw some more pitches under a covered bullpen.
Either Henlsey or Miller could start on Saturday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
Johnson, meanwhile, will face the Mets on Friday at Roger Dean Stadium. Because Johnson will pitch against New York on the April 5 opener at Citi Field, the team doesn’t want to showcase him too much to the Mets before Opening Day.
The way Johnson’s rotation schedule is shaping up, however, he was in face them on Friday and on March 31 at Port St. Lucie.
Gonzalez said on Monday that Johnson will not face the Mets twice to close out Spring Training. But he will see them once, on Friday in Jupiter. On March 31, Johnson most likely will throw in a Minor League game.
Typically, in their last Spring Training appearance, starting pitchers have their pitch count scaled back to about three innings. Johnson threw 80 pitches on Sunday against the Nationals. He could go to about 100 pitches on Friday.
— Joe Frisaro