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Johnson solidifies rotation bid


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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A couple more outings like Wednesday's and Josh Johnson will be tough to take out of the rotation.

 

While Marlins manager Joe Girardi isn't ready to proclaim any starter other than Dontrelle Willis, Johnson continued his strong spring showing at Fort Lauderdale Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

 

Facing a tough-hitting Orioles squad that started Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada, Johnson overcame a rough first inning and turned in a solid 3 2/3 innings.

 

Johnson gave up two runs in the first, but he finished strong.

 

The 6-foot-7 right-hander was tagged for three straight hits by the Orioles, with two runners scoring on a Tejada double.

 

After that, Johnson didn't allow a hit, but he issued one walk.

 

The Marlins went on to beat the Orioles, 5-2, in a game in which catcher Josh Willingham homered.

 

"After the first three batters, I felt very good," Johnson said. "I was getting the ball up in the zone [early]. Every time out, I've felt better and better."

 

In some of his early spring outings, Johnson's velocity was down and he wasn't feeling mechanically sound. There was more life on his pitches Wednesday.

 

Johnson enjoyed being tested by star hitters like Tejada and Mora. He said he was adjusting pitch-to-pitch with the Baltimore sluggers.

 

And he was facing a pretty solid starter in rangy Baltimore right-hander Daniel Cabrera.

 

"I saw him in the [World Baseball Classic], and he was awesome," Johnson said of the Dominican-born Cabrera.

 

Johnson and Cabrera competed against each other in low Class A ball, and now they are at the big-league level.

 

"I liked the way [Johnson] came back after giving up two runs in the first inning," Girardi said.

 

Johnson threw 50 pitches, and he was lifted with two outs in the fourth inning because Girardi wanted to test lefty reliever Josh Stewart against left-handed-hitting Corey Patterson.

 

Petit optioned: Acquired from the Mets as part of the Carlos Delgado trade, Yusmeiro Petit is considered to have a bright future in the organization.

 

The right-hander from Venezuela will just have to wait a bit more for his big-league break.

 

The Marlins on Wednesday optioned Petit to Triple-A Albuquerque after he appeared in three Grapefruit League games and gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

 

"He knows how to pitch," Girardi said. "He has the ability to change speeds with all his pitches and locate. He just needs a little more seasoning. Obviously, he was part of a big trade, and the organization has a lot of faith in him. He's a young man, and we just feel he needs a little bit more experience."

 

Petit pitched in a Double-A game against Cardinals Minor Leaguers on Monday. It was his day to pitch, and now the team wants him to get more innings at the Triple-A level.

 

"I told him today, 'We didn't trade for you to pitch in the Minor Leagues. They traded for you because the Marlins believe you're going to be a pitcher in the big leagues,'" Girardi said. "It's a little bump in the road. He has to go down there with the right attitude."

 

Rotation update: Optioning Petit on Wednesday narrowed the starting pitching field down to seven.

 

Aside from Willis, who will start Opening Day, Girardi hasn't firmly committed to the rest of the rotation.

 

Likely candidates include Brian Moehler and Jason Vargas. Johnson and Sergio Mitre appear to be front-runners, although Scott Olsen and Ricky Nolasco are in the mix.

 

"The spots are slowly [shaping up]," Girardi said. "First, there was like 10 starters, and now it's down to seven."

 

Mitre, who had a comeback grounder clip his right thumb on Monday, threw his scheduled bullpen session on Wednesday. The right-hander is fine and slated to start on Saturday against the Orioles at Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

 

"Just like everyone else, [Mitre's] chances are getting better," Girardi said. "Most of the decisions will not be made until the last couple of days."

 

Nolasco is slated to throw in a relief role on Thursday. Girardi is looking for flexibility, and Nolasco could provide help in that capacity.

 

Trade possibilities? It's no secret the Marlins would like to obtain some outfield help, specifically in left field and center field. But the team remains reluctant to part with some of its talented young pitchers.

 

There is a strong chance the team will go into the season with the outfield combination it is working with now.

 

Jeremy Hermida has right field wrapped up, and Reggie Abercrombie is making a strong case to play center. Chris Aguila has been making progress in left field.

 

Interest in Tampa Bay speedster Joey Gathright has waned because the team is not willing to part with either Olsen or Johnson.

 

A more realistic outfield candidate is Bubba Crosby of the Yankees. Girardi, formerly the Yanks' bench coach, is well aware of what Crosby has to offer.

 

Because of their financial restrictions, the Marlins are looking for players without much big-league service time who are ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues.

 

If the team finds a center fielder through a trade, Abercrombie may be moved to left.

 

TV exposure: Fox Sports Net Florida will televise its second and final Marlins Spring Training game on Thursday.

 

Before the 7:05 p.m. ET start against the Mets at Roger Dean Stadium, the Marlins Pre-Season Special will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Hosted by Craig Minervini, the pregame special kicks off the start of the season. It will feature an introduction of the players and coaching staff.

 

The broadcast team of Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton will handle the play-by-play and analysis of the game.

 

Replays of the preseason special will air on March 25 (4:30 p.m.), March 26 (2 p.m.) and March 31 (2:30 p.m.).

 

Fish bites: Robert Andino has taken ground balls at second base the past few days. On Wednesday, Andino saw his first game action at second. The team has no intentions of switching Andino from shortstop to second base because Hanley Ramirez has stepped up this spring. Girardi said, in the National League, where there are more double-switch options, having versatile players is important. ... Bench coach Gary Tuck has been away from the team the past few days for personal reasons. He is expected back Thursday. ... The only player on the roster without options is Willingham, who is a strong candidate to start.

 

Coming up: The Marlins will host the Mets on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., with Moehler getting the start against New York's Jose Lima.

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So if HanRam solidifies his spot and Andino wont be moved...is Andino now trade bait?

 

Yeah, I don't really understand what that statement means either...maybe it means the organization views him primarily as a 2B, but will ensure that he has game experience (AA/AAA) at 2B.

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A more realistic outfield candidate is Bubba Crosby of the Yankees. Girardi, formerly the Yanks' bench coach, is well aware of what Crosby has to offer.

 

Because of their financial restrictions, the Marlins are looking for players without much big-league service time who are ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues.

 

uh... Crosby is 30 years old

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I was thinking that about Crosby too(although, at first I didn't think he was that old).

 

If we are going to trade for an OF, why not Melky Cabrera? He is now expendable for 4 years.

 

Anyway, I know Andino is a stud defensive SS, could that not translate well to 2B and therefore another great DP combo?

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A more realistic outfield candidate is Bubba Crosby of the Yankees. Girardi, formerly the Yanks' bench coach, is well aware of what Crosby has to offer.

 

Because of their financial restrictions, the Marlins are looking for players without much big-league service time who are ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues.

 

uh... Crosby is 30 years old

 

but he doesnt have that much service time.

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A more realistic outfield candidate is Bubba Crosby of the Yankees. Girardi, formerly the Yanks' bench coach, is well aware of what Crosby has to offer.

 

Because of their financial restrictions, the Marlins are looking for players without much big-league service time who are ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues.

 

uh... Crosby is 30 years old but he doesnt have that much service time.

or upside

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Which Cabrera does...sorry, I have been high on M.K. for a while. He is not on the 40 man and they have Johnny Damon, if we have to trade for a CF from the Yankees, might as well go for the 20 year old switch hitter.

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Which Cabrera does...sorry, I have been high on M.K. for a while. He is not on the 40 man and they have Johnny Damon, if we have to trade for a CF from the Yankees, might as well go for the 20 year old switch hitter.

 

first of all, why are you so high on him? He needs another year at AAA atleast

 

also, why would the trade him anyway?... he will be used as bait around the trade deadline

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I wasn't really advocating trading for either of them, I was saying if a trade for a yankees cf was made, lets not go for the virtual rookie on the wrong side of 30.

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I wasn't really advocating trading for either of them, I was saying if a trade for a yankees cf was made, lets not go for the virtual rookie on the wrong side of 30.

 

understood... but why are you so high on Melky Cabrera?

Because apparantly, for some reason, his nickname is "M.K."

 

I have been high on M.K. for a while.

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I wasn't really advocating trading for either of them, I was saying if a trade for a yankees cf was made, lets not go for the virtual rookie on the wrong side of 30.

 

understood... but why are you so high on Melky Cabrera?

 

Switch hitters are always a hot commotity, he's still 20, and while not a big base stealer he can swipe a bag every now and then if needed. Also, not a slouch out in the field defensively. And to be fair, he was progressed through the minors quite rapidly.

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