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Fredi auditioning for a closer


Eddie Altamonte
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http://www.miamiherald.com/591/story/73948.html

 

Marlins auditioning for a closer

BY MIKE PHILLIPS

It's open season.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated this week that he needed to do something to solve his closer problem, and Friday, he revealed his plan to have an open competition for the job.

 

''We are going to see how it plays out,'' Gonzalez said. 'At some point, we will say, `You're the guy.' I'm comfortable with the guys we have.''

 

There are five candidates: Right-handers Henry Owens, Matt Lindstrom, Randy Messenger and Kevin Gregg, and left-hander Taylor Tankersley, who was activated from the disabled list Friday.

 

Gonzalez said he would be careful with Tankersley, who missed most of spring training because of shoulder tendinitis.

 

''There are no defined roles, so you just have to be ready,'' said Tankersley, who might be the best fit for the role. He was 2-1 last season with a 2.81 ERA and three saves.

 

Gregg has one career save, and the other three candidates entered the season without a big-league save. Owens got his first Monday against Milwaukee and has been impressive. He entered the weekend without allowing a run in seven.

 

Gonzalez said he would not tell any of his relievers before a game who would work the ninth inning.

 

In the meantime, Gonzalez hopes to build back the confidence of Jorge Julio, who struggled as the closer, by using him in low-pressure situations.

 

''It might be the sixth inning or the seventh or the third inning,'' Gonzalez said. ``We have to get his confidence back. We have to build him back up.''

 

Julio (14.73 ERA) blew two saves and came close to blowing a third by loading the bases Sunday against the Phillies before Lee Gardner rescued the Marlins. Julio said he is willing to do anything to help the team.

 

INJURY UPDATES

 

Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who is on the DL because of irritation in his elbow, played catch for the first time in a week Friday, and plans to play catch every day for 10 minutes to get his arm back in shape.

 

''As long as I feel the way I felt today there won't be any setbacks,'' said Nolasco, who is scheduled to come off the DL on April 22.

 

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez (hamstring) was back in the lineup Friday after missing four games.

 

''He is going to have to let us know when it [his hamstring] is tight,'' Gonzalez said. ``He wants to play every day, but there has to be some feedback when he needs a break.''

 

HOMECOMING

 

It was a homecoming for Gonzalez, who was Atlanta's third-base coach the past four seasons. He still has his home here, so it was a busy day.

 

''I got up, took the kids to school at 8, then went to the coffee shop and had coffee with the boys, picked up some prescriptions, and had the oil changed on the car,'' Gonzalez said. ``I was Dad today.''

 

Gonzalez didn't leave any tickets for his family because his son, Alex, 13, had a baseball game Friday night, and the family was there instead. Gonzalez met with friends from the Braves and with his mentor, manager Bobby Cox.

 

''No one has an advantage over him. He's the best,'' Gonzalez said. ``The thing about him is, you never know if the team has lost five in a row or won five in a row. He's always the same.''

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