Marlins continue to explore pitching options

MIAMI — The Marlins on Sunday will finalize their 25-man roster, but the front office is far from done searching for pitching depth.

With some concern over their rotation, Miami is exploring possible trade options. Ideally, they’d like another starter, but also could use use a more help in the bullpen.

Miami’s rotation had its struggles in Spring Training. Not only were a number of the performances rocky, but the durability of the staff also has caught the front office’s attention. Mat Latos dealt with a left knee injury last season. And in mid-October he had a scope on his right elbow. Although he is ready to go, and threw well in a Minor League game on Thursday, the team would like some other options, just to make sure.

Latos is the No. 2 starter, and he is set to face the Braves on Tuesday at Marlins Park.

Henderson Alvarez, the Opening Day starter, tweaked his left knee earlier in camp. Nothing major, but enough to have the organization being cautious. Plus, Alvarez has a knack for getting shaken up, only to brush himself off and still be effective. He had another close call in his first Grapefruit League start when he had a minor collision at first base.

Jarred Cosart dealt with a blister to his right middle finger late in Spring Training. Again, he appears to be fine.

And Dan Haren, while durable, isn’t overpowering. If he isn’t effective, the team would like additional options, just in case.

Miami’s bullpen depth also took a hit this week with news that Aaron Crow likely will need season-ending Tommy John surgery, and Preston Claiborne will be out at least a month with a right shoulder labrum injury.

Those are two right-handers with big league experience who are not available in the short-term, if at all during the season. The club hopes right-handed reliever Nick Masset, who has big league experience but was cut recently, agrees to join the Triple-A New Orleans squad.

Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena are getting close to being big league ready. Both will be on the Triple-A New Orleans staff. Nicolino, a lefty, has a string of 14 straight scoreless innings in Triple-A exhibitions.

Perhaps the starting depth is already on the roster. Long relievers David Phelps and Brad Hand each are candidates to start at any time. Either of them may end up being the answer.

Joe Frisaro

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