The Miami Marlins had a great day Saturday. First they recieved news that two of their top players, Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek would be rejoining the team and playing on Sunday, after Team USA was eliminated at the World Baseball Classic.
The Marlins took on the New York Mets in Grapefruit league action later on that afternoon. The Marlins beat the Mets by the final score of 4-2, on strong pitching and improved hitting. Henderson Alvarez and Christian Yelich stood out in this game for the Marlins.
Henderson Alvarez Returns
Alvarez made his first Spring Training start for the Marlins since his native Venezuela team was knocked out of the World Baseball Classic in the first round. Overall, Alvarez pitched to some mild success on Saturday. While he limited the Mets hitters to just three hits and one run over 3 2/3 innings, Alvarez threw only 26 of his 53 pitches for strikes. He struck out and walked one hitter.
Alvarez faced just one of the minimum hitters through the first three innings, but ran into some trouble in the fourth. He received a visit from the trainer after an Ike Davis single nearly clipped his leg. After some warm-up pitches, he remained in the game, but after allowing a ground-rule double to Marlon Byrd, Alvarez was removed with a minor hamstring cramp.
That does not seem to be serious, as Alvarez told everyone that cramp had already gone away after the game.
Kevin Slowey delivered another strong performance for the Marlins, upping his likelihood to make the Marlins team out of camp. Slowey relieved Alvarez and pitched a strong 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. He also allowed one run on two hits.
Slowey has a 2.63 ERA in 13 2/3 inning this spring, with 13 strikeouts and just 4 walks.
Mike Dunn closed the game for the Fish and struck out two of the three hitters he faced. Dunn is also having a strong spring. Dunn has made seven apperances, going one inning in each. He has struck out 7 and walked 4, while posting a 1.29 ERA.
Polanco Returns; Yelich Homers Again
Third baseman Placido Polanco returned to the Marlins lineup on Saturday, his first action since March 1st. Polanco went 2-for-3 with a double in his return. Polanco expects to be back in the Marlins lineup on Sunday.
Casey Kotchman continues to look like the favorite to make the Marlins opening day roster and start in the place of injured Logan Morrison. Kotchman went 2-for-2 and walked once against the Mets. His triple slash line is now .448/.484/.655. Kotchman will likely regress as a hitter, but his defense should make him a solid contributor until LoMo is ready to return.
Christian Yelich hit a ninth inning home run to pad the Marlins one-run lead. It was his team-leading fourth of the spring. He is noew hitting .368/.467/.816 on the spring. It still seems that Yelich will begin the season at Double-A, which is a great decision by the Marlins front office. Yelich has never played above Single-A, so there is no need to rush him.
Chris Coghlan continues to solidify his spot on the team, going 2-for-3 on the day, upping his line to .313/.333/.455. Although he has only walked once, Coghlan has a history of a better walk rate, so I believe he will improve in that area. If he can combine his walk rate with his spring hitting, the Marlins will have a solid regular on their hands.
Up Next: Check out the Marlins as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday afternoon on MLB Network at 1:05 PM EST. Opening Day starter Ricky Nolasco will get the start for the Marlins, with Giancarlo Stanton batting third in his return. The Cardinals will counter with Lance Lynn.