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Nolasco cleared for Sunday

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JUPITER, Fla. -- A jammed right thumb forced Ricky Nolasco to miss the first half of Spring Training. But the setback doesn't appear to be preventing the right-hander from holding his spot as the Marlins' No. 2 starter.


After throwing an encouraging live bullpen session on Thursday morning, Nolasco was cleared to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday against the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.


There will be a little bit of catching up for Nolasco, but nothing that appears to hurt his chances to be ready for the regular season.


Nolasco anticipates throwing around 55-60 pitches or three innings on Sunday, and he will progress from there.


Barring any setbacks, Nolasco should make four Grapefruit League starts before the season begins.


"By [the time] that first start comes around on April 2, I should be at 90 pitches," Nolasco said. "I don't think anybody is going to be out there throwing over 100 pitches in their first start of the season, anyways. [i'll be good] as long as I can stay around 85-90 [pitches] and get through six [innings]."


The Marlins will start Josh Johnson against the Mets on April 1 in the opener at Sun Life Stadium, and Nolasco is projected to pitch the following day.


Nolasco comes off a 14-9 season with a 4.51 ERA in 2010. With a 54-39 career record, the right-hander is second in team history in victories.


Nolasco jammed his right thumb prior to Spring Training and has been working his way back. He worked his way into game condition by throwing several bullpen sessions, along with throwing live batting practice to hitters.


Mechanically, Nolasco is still refining some things.


"I feel good. There are things I could work on, but those come with innings," Nolasco said. "I'm not really concerned about it.


"I'm not really concerned with the results right now. Obviously, I want to pitch well every time I go out. But as long as my finger doesn't hurt and I'm getting my pitch count up, [that's] all that matters right now."


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