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Fredi ready to get started

Eddie Altamonte

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Gonzalez ready to get started





JUPITER - Pitchers and catchers report.


That phrase is synonymous with hope and new beginnings. Nobody knows that better than Fredi Gonzalez, who waited 43 years for Saturday to roll around.


''No, I'm not antsy. I'm anxious,'' said Gonzalez, who stood in the sunshine at Roger Dean Stadium as he opened spring training as the manager of the Marlins. It was hard for him not to smile.


''I got here Monday and it seemed that [today, the first day of scheduled workouts] would never come,'' he said.


Pitchers worked out and many of the position players, who are scheduled for their first day of workouts with the team Wednesday, showed up early. Players such as second baseman Dan Uggla, first baseman Mike Jacobs and outfielders Reggie Abercrombie and Eric Reed took batting practice in the cages. The Marlins released Jimmy Serrano, a nonroster pitcher who was invited to camp but failed his physical.


Gonzalez said he felt ready for the job.


''I've talked to a lot of people and gotten advice,'' he said. 'They say the same thing: `Be yourself.' ''


Gonzalez was born in Cuba and grew up in Miami (he played for Southridge High), and he has as much Marlins history behind him as just about anyone.


Gonzalez became valuable to the organization, working his way up through every stop in the Marlins' minor-league system.


He has been a third-base coach and a bench coach with the Marlins, and after four years at third base with the Braves, Gonzalez has his dream job -- with a young team that surprised baseball last season.


''I like the way they play the game,'' Gonzalez said. ``I like the way they get dirty.''




Josh Johnson has had some irritation in his right biceps/triceps area recently. But Johnson, who was part of a foursome of standout rookie pitchers last season, showed up Saturday confident he would be ready by Opening Day. He had a magnetic resonance imaging exam Jan. 31 that was negative, but he has not thrown since and he will not throw this week.


''We're going to back him off,'' Gonzalez said. ``There is a little bit of a concern there.''


Johnson had planned on throwing last Monday, but he said he didn't because he slept wrong.


''I slept on my arm and it was a little sore,'' said Johnson, who was 12-7 with a 3.30 ERA last season. ``I'm not a very good sleeper. I hope to get going as early as next week.


``I've been throwing a medicine ball and it felt fine. It feels really good right now. But you don't want to push it. I don't want to go back to Step One. If it feels good, nothing should hold me back. I just want to be careful and not try to push it.''


Gonzalez won't push him.


''I'm lucky,'' he said. ``I see where teams are looking for a fourth and fifth starter, and we've got all these young arms.''

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