Late arrivals could have edge making the club

JUPITER, Fla. — As they say, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

The same logic applied to teams hoping to seriously contend can also be used in the composition of the Marlins’ Opening Day roster.

It’s not about the players who have endured nearly six weeks of camp. Those who were part of the initial 74 on the roster, who have been at the Roger Dean Stadium since mid-February.

We’re talking mainly about the non-roster invitees who were part of the large group waking up early each day. Those trying to impress and get in shape by taking extra batting practice, or fielding more grounders or pop ups. Or the pitchers refining their deliveries each day, two hours before practice officially began.

Life in the big leagues carries no guarantees. That is certainly true in Marlins’ camp.

A week before the season gets underway, there is a strong possibility that at least one player, or two, or perhaps three, could make the club who isn’t even here yet.

Each day could bring in another potential fit to the roster. In the meantime, Marlins’ fans are best advised to check out the daily transactions to see which players become available.

Wilson Valdez is a prime example. The veteran utility infielder, who was in Arizona all spring with the Giants, was released on Friday. Within 24 hours, he was taking batting practice at Roger Dean Stadium as a non-roster invitee of the Marlins.

Don’t be surprised if Valdez is considered a lock to be with the Marlins on Opening Day. In fact, it would be startling if he isn’t on the team.

The Marlins have a few non-roster invitees to keep an eye on. Reliever Chad Qualls, first baseman/outfielder Austin Kearns and first base/third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff are all on the bubble. Decisions on all three are expected by Wednesday, at the latest, because of clauses in their contracts.

The Marlins are looking for a right-handed bat off the bench. Kearns and Kouzmanoff are in the mix for that spot. But chances are the player who eventually fill the role isn’t in camp right now.

You can make the same assumption about a bullpen spot. Miami has already been searching the market for potential, low-cost options.

For the Marlins, some needed depth may be late arrivals to camp.

Joe Frisaro

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