JUPITER, Fla. — MLB Productions picked the right player to follow at Marlins camp on Tuesday.
Jose Fernandez, always upbeat and animated, was being shadowed by the MLB Productions for a segment to run at a later date. To gain the ultimate players’ perspective, Fernandez was wired with a microphone and sported a GoPro camera on his cap.
Fernandez went through his drills on the back fields at Roger Dean Stadium.
But there were only a few drills he was wired up.
For the more advanced drills, he was without mic or cap cam.
Fernandez also threw one inning in a simulated game, a tuneup against hitters before he takes the mound on Friday in Miami’s Grapefruit League opener against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Miami is the visiting team.
The Marlins have a split-squad on Saturday, against the Cardinals in Jupiter, and at the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Nathan Eovaldi likely will pitch on Saturday in Jupiter.
Cishek effective: For the first time this spring, closer Steve Cishek faced hitters. Earlier in camp, the right-hander was hampered by a stiff neck. Cishek, who saved 34 of 36 chances last year, looked sharp against four hitters. He got Marcell Ozuna on a fly ball to left field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia swung threw a slider for a strikeout. Giancarlo Stanton worked out a walk, and Adeiny Hechavarria tapped to third.
Exhibition starters: The exhibition schedule is about to begin. On Wednesday, the Marlins face the University of Miami at Roger Dean Stadium. Angel Sanchez will start for the Marlins, while UM is going with Javi Salas.
Sanchez was acquired from the Dodgers last July as part of the Ricky Nolasco trade. Sanchez projects to open the season at Double-A Jacksonville.
On Thursday, Justin Nicolino, the seventh best lefty prospect in the Majors according to MLB.com, will get the start. Chris Mourelle, a freshman from Southwest Miami High, will pitch for Florida International University.
Workout availability: A number of fans have e-mailed or Tweeted regarding times of workouts and availability. Now that the games are starting up, the players will not be on the back fields as much as before. Fans still can watch on the back fields, but the team won’t be out there very long. Players are usually on the field around 9:30 a.m. ET.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — Jose Fernandez, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, will waste little time getting seeing game action.
Manager Mike Redmond on Saturday announced Fernandez as the starting pitcher for the Marlins’ first Grapefruit League game, which is next Friday against the Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Miami will be the visiting team. St. Louis is starting Carlos Martinez.
Coming off one of the best rookie seasons since Dwight Gooden in 1984, Fernandez has not seen game action since Sept. 11, when he beat the Braves. But after that game, the club shut the hard-throwing right-hander down due to an innings limit.
The Marlins have yet to officially announce Fernandez as their Opening Day starter. But that is considered a formality.
Miami opens its exhibition season on Wednesday against the University of Miami in Jupiter.
Angel Sanchez, acquired from the Dodgers last July in the Ricky Nolasco trade, will get the nod against the Hurricanes.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — The threat of violence in Venezuela led to Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez bringing his wife and two-month-old daughter to South Florida on Thursday night.
A Venezuelan native, Alvarez initially was planning on having his family join him later in Spring Training. But he worked it out where they could leave the country early due to two incidents where his family was impacted by tear gas.
At Marlins camp on Saturday morning, Alvarez, accompanied by several teammates, posed for pictures while holding the Venezuelan flag. Several players held up hand-written signs with the word “Paz” (Peace in Spanish).
“With the picture, I’m hoping to send a message to Venezuela to have peace,” Alvarez said. “To leave the violence behind.”
Alvarez is from Valencia, and his other family members there are fine.
“My daughter is the one who was affected, she was affected by tear gas, twice, so I sent for her,” Alvarez said. “I sent for her and my wife to go to Miami.”
The message the Marlins sent is similar to what the Tigers did on Friday. Detroit players, including Venezuelan natives Miguel Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez, also took pictures holding their country’s flag as a sign of solidarity.
With the popularity of baseball in Venezuela, Alvarez is hopeful that the big leaguer’s plea for peace can help end the violence in the country.
“As baseball players our message has more of a potential to be reached,” Alvarez said. “Detroit sent out a picture [Friday].”
Not just Venezuelan players posed in the Marlins’ picture.
Cuban born Jose Fernandez, Arquimedes Caminero of the Dominican Republic and A.J. Ramos, from Texas, were among those standing in support.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — It’s only been a couple of days, but it’s not too soon to detect that Christian Yelich came into camp ready to swing the bat.
The 22-year-old left fielder has impressed with his overall approach, and his swing ranks up there with anyone on the team.
Yelich has been spraying line drives all over the field, and handling pitches in every part of the zone.
He’s also working on his short-game. Around 8:30 a.m. ET, Yelich was part of a group working on bunting. Third base coach Brett Butler is conducting the drills before practice gets going.
Yelich, Donovan Solano, Rafael Furcal and Adeiny Hechavarria were in the bunting group.
Jones shows plenty of power: Garrett Jones was belting batting practice pitches onto the street, well beyond the right field fence on the back field on Friday. The 32-year-old first baseman is known for having great natural power. A left-handed hitter, Jones was getting his BP looks off Butler, who throws from the left side.
More protein: Marcell Ozuna also was crushing pitches well over the fence in left field on Friday. The 23-year-old, who is the frontrunner to be the center fielder, is recovered from surgery to his left thumb. He keeps the thumb wrapped under his batting glove.
Ozuna is known for being energetic and fun-loving on the field. He was in a hitting group with Reed Johnson. When Johnson drove the ball to the warning track, Ozuna quipped: “More protein.”
* Steve Cishek threw off the mound for eight minutes on Friday, and the closer is easing back to full workouts. Cishek has been dealing with a stiff neck the past few days. It caused him to miss two bullpen sessions. He had hoped to play catch on Thursday, but it was pushed back a day.
* Infielder Juan Diaz officially joined the team on Friday, a day after the first full-squad workout. Diaz was delayed one day due to a visa issue. There are still two relief pitchers who have yet to report due to visa holdups – Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez. There still is no definitive time set for their arrival.
* The Marlins open their exhibition schedule against the University of Miami on Wednesday. The starting pitcher is expected to be named perhaps as early as Saturday.
* With 36 pitchers on the roster, the Marlins are looking to get enough innings for all. So the team has worked out a B Game against the Mets on March 10. The club is hopeful of another B Game in early March.
Full-squad workouts begin at 10 a.m. ET and run until roughly 1 p.m.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — Giancarlo Stanton had a first-hand look at Florida State’s game-winning touchdown drive, which clinched the National Championship for the Seminoles.
The Marlins slugger, who lives in the Los Angeles area, had 50-yard-line seats at the Rose Bowl for the BCS title game, won by FSU over Auburn in a last-second thriller.
A football standout in high school, Stanton turned down an opportunity to play at the University of Southern California to play baseball.
At the title game, Stanton got a good look at Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who threw the last-second touchdown pass.
Like Stanton, Winston is a multi-sport standout. Along with being FSU’s quarterback, Winston also is a closer on the Seminoles’ baseball team.
“I did see that,” Stanton said.
The advice Stanton gives Winston is to take good care of his arm.
“I understand being competitive and stuff, but that’s a long season,” Stanton said. “I hope he’s taking care of it.”
Winston is open to pursuing professional football and baseball careers.
So there could someday be the chance Stanton steps into the box to face Winston.
“It would be cool,” Stanton said. “I haven’t seen him throw, really. I’ve seen him throw from the outfield, and he’s got an arm.”
Stanton did witness Winston’s crowning moment, winning the football title.
“I didn’t storm the field, though,” he said.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — At an early age, Jose Fernandez has accomplished so much.
The hard-throwing right-hander broke into the big leagues at age 20 last year, and was named an All-Star. He turned 21 mid-way through the season, and finished 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA on a 100-loss Miami squad.
His stellar season earned him National League Rookie of the Year honors.
Entering his second big league season, Fernandez has assumed the role of ace. Marlins manager Mike Redmond has yet to officially announce his Opening Day starter, but Fernandez is the obvious choice. If that indeed plays out, Fernandez will become the youngest Opening Day starter in team history, and one of the youngest in the Majors in almost 100 years.
Josh Beckett holds the distinction of being the Marlins’ most youthful Opening Day starter. He was 22-years and 320 days old in 2003.
The Marlins face the Rockies at Marlins Park on March 31. On that day, Fernandez will be 21-years, 243 days.
Fernandez also would become the youngest Opening Day starter in the Majors since Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, who was 20 years, 359 days in 2007. And Fernandez would be the second youngest since Dwight Gooden with the Mets was 21-years, 143-days old in 1986.
STATS LLC. did some research, dating back to 1919. On their chart, if Fernandez does get the nod in the opener, he would replace Vida Blue as the 17th youngest in more than 90 seasons.
Youngest Opening Day starters since 1919
1) Catfish Hunter, KCA 20-4 04/12/1966 at Min
2) Dwight Gooden, NYM 20-144 04/09/1985 vs. StL
3) Fernando Valenzuela, LAD 20-159 04/09/1981 vs. Hou
4) Bob Feller, Cle 20-169 04/21/1939 vs. Det
5) Josh Billings, Det 20-197 04/11/1928 vs. StL
6) Gary Nolan, Cin 20-315 04/07/1969 vs. LAD
7) Felix Hernandez, Sea 20-359 04/02/2007 vs. Oak
8) Bert Blyleven, Min 21-9 04/15/1972 at Oak
9) Jerry Walker, Bal 21-67 04/19/1960 vs. Was
10) Tom Hall, Min 21-136 04/08/1969 at KC
11) Dwight Gooden, NYM 21-143 04/08/1986 at Pit
12) Bob Feller, Cle 21-165 04/16/1940 at CWS
13) Dennis Eckersley, Cle 21-190 04/10/1976 vs. Det
14) Larry Dierker, Hou 21-201 04/10/1968 vs. Pit
15) Jim Bagby Jr., Bos 21-222 04/18/1938 vs. NYY
16) Tom Poholsky, StL 21-234 04/17/1951 at Pit
17) Vida Blue, Oak 21-251 04/05/1971 at Was
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — Beards could become fashionable in the Marlins clubhouse.
Well, at least they are no longer are in violation of team rules for Miami players.
The organization is modifying its hair policy to allow beards, under one stipulation. They are kept clean.
“This year, we’re going to let them have beards, but they have to keep it trimmed up,” manager Mike Redmond said. “And the hair, too. We just don’t want it to be sloppy, I guess. You can have a beard now. … We’re just always adjusting.”
In the past, players could have groomed goatees. And last year, Ricky Nolasco sported a mild beard on occasion, but he had to keep it closely trimmed.
“We try to keep the hair neat,” Redmond said. “It’s basically been the same rule since I played here.”
The player most impacted on the beard policy is reliever Chaz Roe, a non-roster invitee who came to camp with a longer beard than most. Roe can keep the beard, but he’s trimmed it a bit.
Hair on the back of the neck also has to been under control.
Lefty Brian Flynn said he had 3 1/2 inches of hair taken off the back of his neck to adhere to team policy.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who joins the Marlins after being with the Red Sox, is fine to keep his beard. His hair length also is fine.
“Salty is good,” Redmond said.
The Red Sox, of course, are known for having an anything goes hair policy.
The Marlins aren’t going that far.
Could Marlins players rival Red Sox players in the beard department?
“No, we’ve got to keep it neat,” Redmond said. “We don’t want to make it look sloppy. This is an organizational thing.”
As for hair on the back of the neck, Redmond said: “I would think you’d want to do that. Just to keep it clean.”
The Marlins have one of the younger teams in the league, which prompted Redmond to say: “We’ve only got a handful of guys who can grow a beard.”
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — Stretch for Marlins players on Tuesday is set for 9:30 p.m. ET. But that didn’t keep a number of players from getting in some work even earlier at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.
Before 9 a.m., several pitchers were on the mound doing the “towel drill,” which simulates throwing and the snap of the towel helps determine if their mechanics on clean.
Position players technically don’t get going until Thursday, but on a smaller field that is designed for infield drills, veteran Rafael Furcal was getting a head start on his transition to second base.A career shortstop, Furcal is switching to second. The Marlins are high on Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop, and Furcal could still see some games at his old position, if necessary.
Marlins infield coach Perry Hill, one of the best in the business, was giving special attention to Furcal and his footwork in handling relay throws to second base. Footwork around the base is imperative to not only making the plays, and turning double plays, but to making sure the middle infielders don’t get hurt while being taken out by the baserunner.
Austin Nola, expected to be the Double-A Jacksonville shortstop, also was getting some instruction on making the turn as a second baseman.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — When you lose as many one-run games as the Marlins did last season, you recognize the importance of the little things.
Something as simple as pitchers being able to execute a sacrifice bunt is being worked on in Spring Training.
“They understand we lost a lot of one-run games,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We need to get better. We need to get on the other side of those one-run games.”
The first few days of Spring Training are typically reserved for working the fundamentals.
New third base coach, Brett Butler, was known as one of the better bunters of his generation. He is working with the pitchers on bunting.
Pitchers and catchers also are getting their fielding work done on the back fields of the Roger Dean Stadium complex.
The Marlins have 36 pitchers in camp, but for now, two are missing. Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez have yet to report because they are dealing with visa issues getting into the country. It’s unclear when they will arrive.
Organizational meetings: Monday’s workouts ended about noon because of organization meetings.
All 125 people in the baseball operations department were brought to Jupiter for a couple of days of meetings. Many are scouts who are dispersed across the country, and they don’t get a chance to look at the big league club.
So meetings were set for Monday and Tuesday.
Rotation spots: Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler are experienced candidates to win the fourth and fifth rotation spots. Of the two, Turner’s spot seems more secure. The right-hander is out of options, which weighs in his favor.
Turner threw off the mound on Monday to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Koehler also threw off the mound.
So did a couple of other candidates, including Brad Hand (also out of options), Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney and Adam Conley.
– Joe Frisaro
JUPITER, Fla. — The back fields were in full use at Roger Dean Stadium.
After undergoing physicals in the morning, there was a brief meeting, and pitchers and catchers began stretching at 1 p.m. ET.
Breaking up into groups, the first wave of drills were PFP (pitchers fielding practice). Catchers worked on their techniques and blocking pitches in the dirt.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, displayed power from both sides of the plate in batting practice.
Around 2:45 p.m., pitchers threw their first bullpen sessions.
Jose Fernandez was part of Group 1, and he threw to Saltalamacchia.
Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Bryan Evans, Kevin Slowey and Jose Urena also through in the first group.
The second group that threw off the mounds included relievers Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps, obtained from the Mariners in the Logan Morrison trade. Prospects Nick Wittgren and Colby Suggs, along with Chris Hatcher and Chaz Roe also threw.
Those who threw off the mound on Sunday will take a break on Monday.
Taking the mound for the first time will be Andrew Heaney, Adam Conley, Brian Flynn, Brad Hand, Tom Koehler, Jacob Turner, Greg Nappo, Rett Varner and Angel Sanchez.
The second group is mostly of relievers and it includes Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings, Arquimedes Caminero, Carlos Marmol, Grant Dayton, Sam Dyson, Edgar Olmos, James Leverton and Josh Spence.
Two no-shows on Sunday are relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez, who are dealing with visa issues.
Monday’s workouts begin at 9:30 a.m. ET, and they are open to the public.
– Joe Frisaro