I’ll say this now: Spring Training is a meaningless handful of games played to prove that the players didn’t forget how to play over the winter. Many cliche, “best shape of his life!” storylines surface to draw interest for casual fans, but I doubt anyone paying attention to spring training needs an excuse to watch baseball in early March.
Whether issues should be addressed based off limited pre-season innings is debatable. But the Miami Marlins do have a couple situations to keep an eye on during Grapefruit League play.
The Fifth Spot
One of the standard problems to solve for each team each spring is, “Whats this pitcher good for?” and the 2013 Marlins are no different. The fifth starting spot is up for grabs between fringe guys such as Wade LeBlanc, Brad Hand, and Tom Koehler.
It’s a shame that a decision may be based on whether one of the three blows up during a February or March outing, especially since the best pitcher of the three is perhaps Koehler who is alarmingly prone to home runs.
For these three, the surest prediction is that they’ll all see time in AAA-New Orleans and the majors.
This competition is more likely for the backup center field position. Ruggiano is the clear front-runner to start April 1st in Washington, while a slew of players need to prove they deserve a spot on the bench. Based on experience, Gorkys Hernandez may be the favorite to win the backup role over Chris Coghlan, Bryan Petersen. An interesting name in the competition is Rule-5 draft pick Alfredo Silverio, has a shot at sticking on the roster when he gets healthy enough to play defense. For now, he’s starting spring games at DH.
Chone Figgins vs. Everyone
I imagine Figgins walked into camp with a rolling suitcase of six gloves, catcher’s gear, his own rosin bag and a boom box ghetto blasting the chorus to “Centerfield” on repeat. Figgins’ best asset to make a roster is his (alleged) flexibility. He’s a long shot to play in the outfield with a crowded center field competition and fan favorites in the corners. The thin Marlins infield would welcome a backup guy, but for now, Figgins is hitless in spring training with two fielding errors.
So while the Marlins spring training record shouldn’t get you change your attitude on the team, there are a few reasons to be watching. Who’s the fifth starter? Who’s the best backup center fielder? Will Figgins get a hit?